Tuesday, 17 January 2017

NASA touts new Laser Propulsion System that’ll take men to Mars in 3 days

Researchers at American space agency, NASA, are working on a new laser propulsion system which they say will take men to Mars in just 3 days.

As things stand, it will take humans an average of five to six months to reach the surface of the Red Planet.

However, NASA researchers are now working on a new laser technology to propel spacecraft with giant sails to Mars in just three days. The new “photonic propulsion” system relies on the momentum of photons – particles of light – to move forward.

But instead of photons from the Sun’s rays, the design from NASA scientist Philip Lubin will involve a push by giant Earth-based lasers to the spacecraft. According to Lubin, the technology is very much readily available and the system can easily be scaled up.

“There is no known reason why we can’t do this. There is a roadmap which you can look at in our paper to relativistic flight. The system is completely scalable modularly, built to any size you want from a tiny one to a gigantic one,” he said.

Lubin agrees that the technology shouldn’t immediately be used on a Mars mission. He suggests instead it be used on a wafer-thin spacecraft that would be equipped with integrated optical communications, optical systems and sensors combined with directed energy propulsion.

Lubin and his team have received a proof of concept grant from NASA to demonstrate the system could work. He is already dreaming of sending probes to the outermost part of the universe.

“We could propel a 100 kilogram robotic craft to Mars in a few days. If you want to push something like shuttle class, it takes you roughly in order of month to get there,” he said.

“Within 25 year light of Earth, there are actually quite a few potential exoplanets and habitable things to visit – that may be habitable. We don’t know of course. There are many targets to choose from. The closest is Alpha Centauri, which is about four light years away,” he added.