My question Have light gases like hydrogen or helium been explored for ion propulsion? reiterates the question in the body of the text:

Has the "ion sorcery" for light gases like hydrogen and helium been explored experimentally for future ion propulsion technology? What about neon at least?

To avoid comments like "Why do you think they should"? I included a short explanation that helium and hydrogen provide 5.7 and 11.5 times more Isp than xenon (assuming charge +1) at a given acceleration voltage. This was a follow-on question after this answer to Is it possible to create a relativistic space probe going at least 0.1c with present day technology? where maximizing Isp is necessary to reach such velocities.

This answer post does not attempt to answer the question, but instead voices a position that nobody would want to study this because it's a bad idea, and uses the power-limited DAWN mission as an example.

My problem is that while the answer post is a great answer to a question that was not asked and has received now +11 up votes, that's now how Stack Exchange is supposed to work. Readers looking for an answer to my question currently will not find it.

Of course the correct answer to my question is

"Yes they have, and here are examples of substantial research efforts at NASA and elsewhere that have done this!"

I'm a little unhappy at the hijacking of my question to drive a different narrative, but what's done is done. My proposed solution in this case is to rewrite the question to fit the answer that's posted there, and then re-ask my actual question elsewhere. This preserves the answer's current up-votes and then allows a good answer to my question to be posted with it without the distracting counter-narrative.

Part of the confusion here is that while it turns out that for power-limited missions such as those based on solar-electric propulsion far from the Sun that need to get there within several years, it can be argued that heavier atoms like xenon are good. However there is no trace of power limitation in my question and that is by design. I've asked the question to which I want an answer.

Question: In this particular case my impulse would be to accommodate the thoughtful answer by rewriting the question to match it, and then re-asking my original question where hopefully newly posted answers will address it. This way each group of answers will appear under the questions they answer, which is after all the goal here; good answers to on-topic questions. Would that be okay in this case?


1 Answer 1


I would say no. Do not substantially alter the question in this way. While it is tempting to be accommodating in situations like this, creating circumstances in which the question might magically change while other people are trying to answer increases the likelihood of running into problems where moderators have to intervene to clean things up, resulting potentially in someone's upvoted answer getting deleted either way.

If you really want to push for a better answer, you can always use the bounty system which I know you're quite familiar with.

  • $\begingroup$ Okay I'll give this a try, thanks! If all else fails I may have to write one myself ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 15, 2020 at 13:35

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