This Is NASA's Solar Propulsion Engine of the Future

By Jamie Condliffe on at

This Tron-esque glowing blue ring isn't the latest designer lamp. In fact, it's NASA's cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster, being tested in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Using xenon ions to create its thrust, the engine is being considered for use as part of the Asteroid Initiative—NASA's plan to capture a small asteroid and redirect it safely to an orbit around Earth. In fact, the engine is a radically updated and redesigned version of the one currently powering NASA's Dawn mission, as it head towards the asteroid belt. [NASA]

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech