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Latest Ion thruster Stories

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2009-04-06 10:15:00

GOCE's sophisticated electric ion propulsion system has been switched on and confirmed to be operating normally, marking another crucial milestone in the satellite's post-launch commissioning phase. The success of GOCE's ultra-sensitive gravity measurements depends on finely controlling the satellite's orbit and speed. The push from the thruster must be just enough to compensate for the tiny amount of drag generated by the few wisps of atmosphere at GOCE's orbital height. No normal jet engine...

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2009-03-18 13:59:07

After liftoff March 17, ESA's GOCE spacecraft is performing very well, having achieved an extremely accurate injection altitude just 1.5 km lower than planned. The Mission Control Team is now working round-the-clock shifts to implement a series of critical check-out procedures. The Mission Control Team at ESOC, ESA's Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, are now conducting the complex and critical 'Launch and Early Operations Phase' (LEOP) for GOCE, which was successfully launched...

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2009-03-17 09:40:00

ESA's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) successfully launched on schedule Tuesday with plans to provide an unprecedented view of Earth's gravity field. GOCE launched via a Russian Rockot vehicle from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia at 1421GMT on Tuesday. Mission managers must now wait for about 90 minutes after lift-off before GOCE separates from its rocket. GOCE was expected to launch on Monday, but technical problems forced mission managers to suspend the...

2009-03-12 15:19:18

U.S. space agency scientists say the Cassini spacecraft has successfully switched to a backup set of propulsion thrusters as it orbits Saturn. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the late Wednesday swap was performed because of degradation in the performance of the primary thrusters, which had been in use since Cassini's launch in 1997. The space agency said the switch marked only the second time in Cassini's 11 years of flight that its engineering teams have gone to a...

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2009-03-12 12:47:23

Early this morning the Cassini spacecraft relayed information that it had successfully swapped to a backup set of propulsion thrusters late Wednesday. The swap was performed because of degradation in the performance of the primary thrusters, which had been in use since Cassini's launch in 1997. This is only the second time in Cassini's 11 years of flight that the engineering teams have gone to a backup system. The thrusters are used for making small corrections to the spacecraft's course, for...

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2009-03-10 16:20:00

This month an ESA team is preparing to test the performance of the smallest yet most precisely controllable engine ever built for space, sensitive enough to counteract the force of incoming sunshine. Measuring only ten centimeters across and emitting a faint blue glow as it runs, the Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) engine produces an average thrust equivalent to the force of a single falling hair. But despite its low power, FEEP's thrust range and controllability are far superior to...

2009-03-10 13:14:47

European Space Agency scientists say they are ready to test the smallest yet most precisely controllable engine ever built for space. Measuring only 10 centimeters across, the ESA said its Field Emission Electric Propulsion engine produces an average thrust equivalent to the force of a falling hair, but sensitive enough to counteract the force of incoming sunshine. Despite its low power, the ESA said FEEP's thrust range and controllability are far superior to more forceful thrusters. Most...

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2009-03-13 06:00:00

ESA is about to launch the most sophisticated of Earth Observation satellites to investigate the Earth's gravitational field with unprecedented resolution and accuracy. GOCE data will be crucial for obtaining accurate measurements of ocean circulation and sea-level change, both of which are affected by climate change. The data will help to better understand processes occurring inside the Earth which are linked to volcanoes and earthquakes. The "Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation...

2009-02-24 12:20:44

U.S. scientists say they are developing a new type of rocket that runs on gases that are much less expensive than conventional propellants. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say their new rocket -- called the Mini-Helicon Plasma Thruster -- is much smaller than other rockets of its kind and could consume just one-tenth the fuel used by conventional systems. Oleg Batishchev, who led the research, said propulsion systems currently used for maintaining a satellite's orbit rely on...

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2009-01-29 14:40:32

Higher-quality coatings through "runaway" self-sputtering In the electronics industry, thin metal films are deposited on silicon wafers with a sputter gun, which uses energetic ions "“ atoms with a positive charge "“ to knock the metal atoms off a target. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have now developed a powerful new kind of sputter process that can deposit high-quality metal films in complex, three-dimensional nanoscale...


Word of the Day
monteith
  • A large punch-bowl of the eighteenth century, usually of silver and with a movable rim, and decorated with flutings and a scalloped edge. It was also used for cooling and carrying wine-glasses.
  • A kind of cotton handkerchief having white spots on a colored ground, the spots being produced by a chemical which discharges the color.
This word is possibly named after Monteith (Monteigh), 'an eccentric 17th-century Scotsman who wore a cloak scalloped at the hem.'
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