The American Space Agency recently announced that they are working on a laser technology which could expedite any future Mars trips. Currently it should take around five months to reach the Red Planet, however NASA’s photonic propulsion system might take you to Mars in three days.
This news was revealed by scientist Philip Lubin through NASA’s very own video podcast. Lubin is a professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara and the NASA scientist responsible for this groundbreaking system.
In the video, he explains that photonic propulsion could help diminish the time it takes for humans to reach Mars, which is currently five months. Should his method be applicable, humans could reach Mars in just three days time.
It is important to mention, though, that such an extraordinary performance could only be achieved with a craft of about 100 kg, whereas for humans it would require a much bigger craft, which would probably reach Mars in a month.
The system works by using huge lasers, which are placed on Earth, and are then bounced off craft-based reflective sails, thus propelling the spacecraft at almost the speed of light.
The main component of the big propulsion system is referred to as X3 and it works by outputting plasma at a powerful speed, which then enables a forward thrust.
Nowadays, we are using chemical-powered rockets, which could never achieve such a performance on their own.
According to Lubin, his system of photonic propulsion could take a spacecraft to a speed of light of 30pc, about the same time it would take the Space Launch System to take off and with the same level of energy. (the Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket ever built)
This technology could prove very helpful for interstellar missions, as well. Even though humans would not be able to conduct such expeditions, it would be possible to deploy an extremely light spacecraft using this photonic propulsion system, in order to conduct various exploration missions.
The ambitious scientist says there is no reason why they would not be able to make this happen, except perhaps for NASA budget limitations.
This is certainly not the case, now that Philip Lubin and his team were awarded a proof-of-concept grant from NASA in order to make this happen, so it’s quite possible for this system to be a reality soon and not just wishful thinking.
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