Drastic miniaturization of electronics and ingression of next-generation nanomaterials into space technology have provoked a renaissance in interplanetary flights and near-Earth space exploration using small unmanned satellites and systems. As the next stage, the NASA’s 2015 Nanotechnology Roadmap initiative called for new design paradigms that integrate nanotechnology and conceptually new materials to build advanced, deep-space-capable, adaptive spacecraft. This review examines the cutting edge and discusses the opportunities for integration of nanomaterials into the most advanced types of electric propulsion devices that take advantage of their unique features and boost their efficiency and service life. Finally, we propose a concept of an adaptive thruster.
Levchnko, I., Xu, S., Teel, G., Mariotti, D., Walker, MLR., & Keidar, M. (2018). Recent progress and perspectives of space electric propulsion systems based on smart nanomaterials. Nature Communications, 9, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02269-7