Many NASA technicians are currently busy working on a laser propulsion system that may come in handy for a three day long journey to Mars. While this may seem an impossibility right now, the chances of such a scheme of things coming true is not nil.
The main thing is that there are actually no obstacles to the fantastic 3 day long journey to Mars via a laser propulsion system. All it will take is some ingenuity on the part of NASA’s technicians and working staff.
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The fact that the current spacecraft are still too slow for interplanetary space travel made for some embarrassment and soul searching by NASA execs. Thus the technicians were put to work building methods of outdoing science and the universal inertia.
Particles can be made to travel at the speed of light (or beyond in case of the hypothetical tachyons) in accelerators. However, large scale objects at the macro-level such as spacecraft cannot even approach 3% of that sort of extreme speed in real life. This is an impediment and a hindrance. With the current technology, it will take almost half a year to travel to Mars.
One such pioneer at NASA has decided to give laser propulsion systems a try. His name is Philip Lubin. The lasers will fling spacecraft with giant sails all the way to the Red Planet in as little as 3 days. This would be a miracle in the making.
This scheme resembles Bill Nye’s solar sail in its “Think Big” scenario. The whole act relies on the power of photons to cast the spacecraft at an extreme speed to the planet Mars. Instead of solar particles, lasers will be employed to get the job done.
While the technology is there, it is available on a small scale. There is no reason why it can’t be scaled up to the level of NASA’s spacecraft though. This process resembles sci-fi more than science.
That is the magic of the scientific method, that it keeps surprising us. Currently, spacecraft are propelled via chemical fuel that is burnt in the exhaust. This is inefficient and a burden on the spacecraft.
Meanwhile, electromagnetic acceleration is an altogether different mechanism. "Electromagnetic acceleration is only limited by the speed of light while chemical systems are limited to the energy of chemical processes," writes Lubin in a paper on the technology (via ScienceAlert).
The only problem is that such a means of transportation requires some very complex and costly equipment to pull off. An impossible EM drive is in the works.
Photonic propulsion could get a 100 kg spacecraft to Mars within three days flat. It is even more efficient over longer distances.
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This might just open up the way to exploration of the universe by humans. It is a step in the right direction since chemical fuel is limited while light energy in the form of lasers has no limits.