Ion thruster

An ion engine test.

An ion thruster is a kind of spacecraft engine. It works by using static electricity or magnetism to push ions (electrically charged atoms) out the back of the spacecraft. It takes a very long time to speed up, but its fuel lasts much longer than a rocket engine. It has to be carried into outer space by a regular rocket, because the ions don't push hard enough for it to escape the Earth's gravity, but after it gets to outer space it can travel a very long way. An ion thruster needs electricity to run, so the spacecraft has to also carry solar panels or a nuclear reactor.

The NASA space probe called Dawn used an ion thruster to get to the asteroid Vesta, and is now using it to go to the dwarf planet Ceres.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ioonenjin
العربية: محرك أيوني
беларуская: Іонны рухавік
català: Motor iònic
čeština: Iontový motor
dansk: Ion-motor
Deutsch: Ionenantrieb
eesti: Ioonmootor
English: Ion thruster
Esperanto: Jonpelilo
euskara: Motor ioniko
français: Moteur ionique
Gaeilge: Ianinneall
hrvatski: Ionski pogon
ქართული: იონის ძრავი
latviešu: Jonu dzinējs
magyar: Ionhajtómű
Nederlands: Ionenmotor
norsk: Ionemotor
norsk nynorsk: Ionemotor
português: Propulsor de íons
română: Motor ionic
slovenščina: Ionski pogon
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ionski pogon
svenska: Jonmotor
Türkçe: İyon motoru
українська: Іонний двигун
Tiếng Việt: Động cơ ion