Jahn honored at Princeton rocketry conference

Robert Jahn, professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received the Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Electric Propulsion at the 29th International Electric Propulsion Conference, which is taking place Oct. 31-Nov. 4 at Princeton University.

The conference organizers gave the award to Jahn and five of the other "most senior and important contributors" to the field of electric propulsion, which is a type of rocket power for deep space exploration. Jahn founded Princeton's Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory in 1961.

This year's International Electric Propulsion Conference is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first theoretical proposal that led to the invention of electric propulsion. It is being attended by 350 people from 16 countries, according to conference chair Edgar Choueiri, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton.

Electric propulsion is a method for powering rockets with less fuel than conventional rocket thrusters. Electrically propelled rockets do not burn fuel. Instead they produce superheated electrically charged particles, called plasma, and use electromagnetic forces to propel the plasma particles from the thruster at a very high speed.