Princeton University’s science art contest features spacecraft, lighthearted lasers and Sauron in space.

Xenon-PlasmaWASHINGTON, D.C. – Physicist Jerry Ross doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about art. He builds and tests spacecraft engines at Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey. But when he heard about Princeton’s “Art of Science” contest, he thought of the glowing plumes streaking out of his ion thrusters in a new light.

“I entered the contest on a whim,” said Ross, who this year won first place and a check for $250.

Inside Science News Service has collected a few of our favorite entries. The images, produced by scientists during their experiments, are described below. The full gallery, which includes everything from dueling hippos to merging galaxies, can be found here.

1st Place – Spacecraft That Pass Gas
It’s not as powerful as Captain Kirk’s warp drive engines. But the Hall-effect thruster pictured here is an up-and-coming technology that allows many of today’s satellites and spacecraft to maneuver. These fuel-efficient thrusters use electric and magnetic fields to speed up and shoot out charged particles of xenon gas — the glowing plume seen in this image — to propel spacecraft forward.

Click here to read the full article.

Source: Inside Science
Photo: Jerry Ross | Inside Science
Caption: Xenon Plasma Accelerator