Researchers at Imperial College in the UK have created an innovative micro-motor that could change the way small satellites are maneuvered in the future.
What’s new is a device the size of a fingernail, which does not require large storage facilities, and is called the ICE-Cube Thruster – “ICE” is short for “Iridium catalytic electrolysis“, or iridium catalyzed electrolysis in Portuguese.
What does a small space rocket look like?
- As the name suggests, the thruster is based on electrolysis and is designed to maneuver small satellites in space.
- To move, an attached electrolyzer moves a 20-watt current through the water and produces hydrogen and oxygen to generate thrust.
- To give you an idea of the minimum size, the ICE-Cube is so small that the combustion chamber and nozzle together are only 1mm long.
- Due to its dimensions, the small space rocket can only be assembled using a special microelectronics-based approach called MEMS (or “Micro-electromechanical systems“In English). Information from the portal Phys.org.
How powerful is the ICE-Cube Thruster?
In tests, the ICE-Cube has so far reached the 1.25 mN mark of thrust sustainably for 185 seconds (about 3 minutes).
The first experiments were conducted in the laboratory to prove the real-world viability of the propellant. Data collected during the activity will guide the next steps in the development of the innovative micromotor.
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