This is a learning module on ion engines, a newer rocket propulsion technology that uses electric fields instead of chemical or nuclear reactions for powering spacecraft. The ion propulsion system's efficient use of fuel and electrical power enable spacecraft to travel farther and cheaper than other propulsion technology. Students begin their tour with a tutorial on positive and negative charges, then progress to hitting targets using a charge simulator. Next, they look at multimedia materials that explain the inner workings of an ion engine. The activity culminates in an interactive challenge to design an ion engine using what has been learned. At each phase, teachers and learners are provided with background text, teacher guides, and explicit help with the fundamentals of charge interaction. This resource is part of NASA's Dawn project, whose goal is to shed light on the early evolution of our Solar System by investigating two large asteroids that have remained intact since their formations. Dawn's spacecraft are powered by ion propulsion.


  • Education > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12


ion propulsion,NSDL,Solar System,Multimedia,Undergraduate (Lower Division),Space Science,Electric Fields and Potential,Space Exploration,Grade 14,asteroid belt,Grade 10,ion thruster,Grade 12,Grade 13,robotic spacecraft,Astronomy,Robotic Exploration,solar system,Grade 11,Informal Education,Higher Education,High School,NSDL_SetSpec_ncs-NSDL-COLLECTION-000-003-112-102,space missions,Physics,JPL,ion engines,Technical Education (Upper Division),oai:nsdl.org:2200/20130508142929228T,Electricity and Magnetism,Asteroids,Education Practices,space exploration,Engineering,Electric Field,exploration,Space science,Education,Technology



Access Privileges:

Public - Available to anyone

License Deed:

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike


This resource has not yet been aligned.
Curriki Rating
'NR' - This resource has not been rated
'NR' - This resource has not been rated

This resource has not yet been reviewed.

Not Rated Yet.

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467