ion engine


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ion engine

A device consisting of a source for producing ions and an electromagnetic field for accelerating the ions in a particular direction. In practice, an ion engine can be used in a low-pressure environment to produce propulsion by reaction forces associated with the rapidly moving ions. It is also necessary to expel oppositely charged particles to the ions from the engine to ensure charge neutrality. Ion engines have been investigated as possible power sources for spacecraft.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006

ion engine

[′ī‚än ‚en·jən]
(aerospace engineering)
An engine which provides thrust by expelling accelerated or high-velocity ions; ion engines using energy provided by nuclear reactors are proposed for space vehicles.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The ion engines are not nearly as powerful as the ones based on more traditional fuels, but at least they were still working.
The fuel used in DS1's ion engine is xenon, a chemically inert, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas.
In the test model, an ion exhaust plume was produced that traveled more than four times faster than state-of-the-art ion engine designs achieve.
EUROPE'S first mission to the moon will be powered by a new generation of Star Trek-style ion engines, it was revealed yesterday.
A small tweak with the ion engine three weeks later adjusted Dawn's track for a flyby of Mars in February 2009, which will send the craft into an orbit that stretches out to 1.8 a.u.
In the Deep Space 1 ion engine, electrons are emitted from a hollow tube cathode and enter a magnetic-ringed chamber, where they strike xenon atoms.
During the approach phase, the spacecraft's main activity will be thrusting with a special, hyper-efficient ion engine that uses electricity to ionize and accelerate xenon to generate thrust.
The NSTAR power processing unit--a group of power converters--will tailor the electrical current for use by the ion engine.
Launched into Earth's orbit by an Ariane-5 booster rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2003, SMART-1 used its ion engine to slowly raise its orbit over 14 months until the moon's gravity grabbed it.
The spacecraft used an ion engine to slip into a lunar polar orbit.