Latest in Science

Image credit:

Japan sends a ribbon into space, asks it to test the magnetic currents

Vlad Savov
09.06.10
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Tether propulsion seems to be the OLED of the spacefaring world, carrying as it does a lot of promise but seemingly never ready for the big time. The fundamental premise is as simple as it is appealing -- a long strip of metal stretched out in space can theoretically exploit the Earth's magnetic field to maneuver itself without expending any fuel of its own. This is done by sucking up ionospheric electrons at one end and, predictably enough, spitting them out at the other, allowing current to flow through the tether. Japan's aerospace agency has recently shot off a testing vehicle for just this theory, a 300 meter-long, 2.5cm-wide ribbon, which has managed to successfully generate a current. No thrust-measuring equipment was on board and it's still very early days, but hey, there's at least the chance that one day satellites will all sprout long, elegant tails to power their way through the sky... and into our private lives.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Lebanon plans to charge a fee for internet voice calls

Lebanon plans to charge a fee for internet voice calls

View
California's Earthquake Early Warning system rolls out statewide

California's Earthquake Early Warning system rolls out statewide

View
Motorola invite hints at a 'reinvented' RAZR

Motorola invite hints at a 'reinvented' RAZR

View
Supreme’s burner phone is a hypebeast’s dream

Supreme’s burner phone is a hypebeast’s dream

View
Endel's Apple Watch app generates soothing sounds on your wrist

Endel's Apple Watch app generates soothing sounds on your wrist

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr