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Mini Ion Thrusters To Push Tiny Satellites

Tiny microthrusters developed at MIT will be used to maneuver very small satellites.


(Mini ion thrusters)

Lozano’s design is a flat, compact square — much like a computer chip — covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward.

“They’re so small that you can put several [thrusters] on a vehicle,” Paulo Lozano, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, says. He adds that a small satellite outfitted with several microthrusters could “not only move to change its orbit, but do other interesting things — like turn and roll.”

These independently powered and maneuverable devices are like tiny versions of the pushpots in Murray Leinster's 1953 novel Space Tug.

Be sure to check out the CubeSats Miniature Satellites With Mini-Thrusters and the Nano-Particle Field Extraction Thruster.

From MIT.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/20/2012)

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