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15 Sep 2016, 21:38 UTC
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Xenon The Noble GasXenon is one of heavier Noble GasesScreen capture from ChemicalElements.comThe noble gases are the orange column on the right of the periodic table. These are chemically inert. Which means they're not corrosive. This makes them easier to store or use.Low Ionization EnergyPer this graph is from Wikipedia, Xenon has a lower ionization energy than the lighter noble gases.The reaction mass must be ionized before it can be pushed by a magnetic field. Xenon takes less juice to ionize. So more of an ion engine's power source can be devoted to imparting exhaust velocity to reaction mass.Big Atoms, Molar WeightLow molar weight makes for good ISP but poor thrust. And pathetic thrust is the Achilles heel of Hall Thrusters and other ion engines. The atomic weight of xenon is 131.29 (see periodic table at the top of the page).Tiny hydrogen molecules are notorious for leaking past the tightest seals. Big atoms have a harder time squeezing through tight seals. Big whopper atoms like xenon can be stored more easily.Around 160 K, xenon is a liquid with a density of about 3 grams per cubic centimeter. In contrast, oxygen is liquid below 90 K and a density of 1.1. ...

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