Ion Engines

ion engine

Ion Engines are the most exciting new rocket propulsion system since the Chinese invented the rocket about a thousand years ago.

Most rocket engines use chemical reactions for power. They combine various gases and liquids to form chemical explosions which push the rocket through space. Chemical rocket engines tend to be powerful but have a short lifetime.

Ion Engines use electric fields instead of chemical reactions. Ion Engines tend to be much less powerful, but they are so efficient, they can last for years before running out of fuel.

These activities should help you understand how Ion Engines work.

Before you can understand the entire Ion Engine, you need to understand some basics about electric charges.

Ion Propulsion Content Module

Positive and Negative Charges Interactive-- tutorial

     Charges Student Text

Charge Simulator Interactive -- get the charges to hit the targets

     Attractive and Repulsive Forces
Student Activity

     We Need a Push Teacher Guide

A Trip Through the Ion Engine
     Student Text


     Teacher Guide

Design an Ion Engine Interactive -- put what you've learned to use
     Student Activity

     Teacher Guide

Hotspots-- play against the computer in this soccer-like action game