CLAUS LUNAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CLAUS LUNAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Deep Space 1 spacecraft. Computer illustration of NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft, launched on 24th October 1998 to test new technologies. It was the first craft to use solar electric (ion) propul- sion. The solar arrays (pale blue) gathered elect- ricity which was used to ionise xenon gas, which was then forced out of the spacecraft's rear (blue cone). This is very efficient: only 11.5 kilograms of fuel was used during the 600 million kilometre trip to the asteroid Braille. Deep Space 1 also had artificial intelligence, carrying out repairs and reacting to unusual situations, meaning less work was needed from the controllers on Earth.
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