Scientists of the European Space Agency (ECA) created a miniature ion engine capable of supporting a satellite in the near -Earth orbit.
The role of fuel in it is assigned to liquid metal in a tiny tungsten crown with a diameter of 1 cm, consisting of 28 needles. Its “motor” ability is due to the fact that it generates an electric field, throwing positive charges into space that form a traction.
The productivity corresponds to the size of the chips-engine-from only 10 to 400 micronyutons, but even it is enough to carry out the maneuvering of satellites in near-Earth orbit.
Its Athlete is a European-Japanese Ion engine, specially designed for the Bepicolombo space satellite, on the contrary, is a global record holder among ion engines. Its performance is 290,000 micronyutons.
Source — The European Space Agency