Innovative thruster design increases efficiency for future spaceflight

Hall thrusters (HTs) are used in earth-orbiting satellites and show promise to propel robotic spacecraft long distances, such as from Earth to Mars. The propellant in a HT, usually xenon, is accelerated by an electric field which strips electrons from neutral xenon atoms, creating a plasma. Plasma ejected from the exhaust end of the thruster can deliver great speeds, typically around 70,000mph.

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