Xenon (pronounced ZEN-on or ZEE-non) is a chemical element represented by the symbol Xe. Its atomic number is 54. A colorless, heavy, odorless noble gas, xenon occurs in the Earth's atmosphere in trace amounts. Although generally unreactive, xenon can undergo a few chemical reactions such as the formation of xenon hexafluoroplatinate, the first noble gas compound to be synthesized.
Xenon is used in flash lamps and arc lamps, and as a general anesthetic. The first excimer laser design used a xenon dimer molecule (Xe2) as its lasing medium, and the earliest laser designs used xenon flash lamps as pumps. Xenon is also being used to search for hypothetical weakly interacting massive particles and as the propellant for ion thrusters in spacecraft.
Xenon is the preferred fuel for ion propulsion of spacecraft because of its low ionization potential per atomic weight, and its ability to be stored as a liquid at near room temperature (under high pressure) yet be easily converted back into a gas to fuel the engine. The inert nature of xenon makes it environmentally friendly and less corrosive to an ion engine than other fuels such as mercury or caesium. Xenon was first used for satellite ion engines during the 1970s. It was later employed as a propellant for Europe's SMART-1 spacecraft and for the three ion propulsion engines on NASA's Dawn Spacecraft.
In a gas-filled tube, xenon emits a blue or lavenderish glow when the gas is excited by electrical discharge. Xenon emits a band of emission lines that span the visual spectrum, but the most intense lines occur in the region of blue light, which produces the coloration.
Watch out for the lift!!