SCIENCE

NASA's Research For Photonic Propulsion Might Pave Way For Three-Day Travel To Mars

  • Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Feb, 22, 2016, 03:49 PM
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(Photo : Getty Images/NASA) Researchers have finally figured out why Earth is much bigger than Mars.

With the current level of technology available at NASA, one could reach Mars in just six months. NASA researchers are looking for faster ways to reach the Red Planet, however.

According to Fox News, NASA is looking at laser technology to beat the six-month time frame expected for travel to Mars. Called photonic propulsion, they believe that it will allow for travel to Mars in just three days. It would involve using lasers to move a giant sail. The system would rely on Earth-based lasers for power rather than photons from the Sun's rays.

"There are recent advances which take this from science fiction to science reality," said Philip Lubin, of the University of California Santa Barbara. He is in charge of NIAC, NASA Innovative Advanced Concept. "There is no known reason why we can't do this," he continued. "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."

Unlike standard rockets powered by chemical reactions, photonic propulsion would allow for acceleration reaching close to the speed of light.

Lubin and his team received a proof of concept grant from NASA, so it seems their idea is more than plausible.

"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 a 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."

If they are successful at getting photonic propulsion figured out, we may see advancements in space travel unlike ever in history. 

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