Special Reports

Going Interstellar: The Technology That Could Take Us To Mars In Three Days


Scientists have figured out how to reach Mars in three days. However, it will not be possible by using normal rockets. What will take humans to Mars within a short period of time is photonic propulsion.

With photonic propulsion, scientists use laser in the Earth's orbit which will push a solar sail, a lightweight material which can catch photons or light particles that are reflected off of any surface. The principle is the same as the normal sail but instead of catching wind, it catches lightand cause propulsion.

This photonic propulsion will launch a lightweight, unmanned aircraft into space. The spacecraft will be wafer thin and would not carry any fuel but will be able to travel for a much longer period. To make it more specific, the scientists involved in the project said that this wafer thin probe can have a maximum speed of 621 miles per second or 30 percent the speed of light.

The project is headed by Philip Lubin, a NASA scientist and physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He and his team have been awarded a $100,000 - NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts grant. Their project is called the Directed Energy Propulsion for Interstellar Exploration or DEEP-IN and was tasked to create a road map and conduct testing regarding the Mars mission.

Lubin said their idea might sound like a plot for a movie similar to Interstellar but he said that the NASA already has the technology but just needs to be developed more. Moreover, the initial voyage to Mars using the technology is targeted to be for 2030.

He also added that with the development of photonic propulsion technology, humans will not just be able to reach and probe Mars within a short span of time but other planets and galaxies beyond it.

For example, the nearest solar system to ours is the Alpha Centauri which is around four light years from our planet. Lubin said that with the photonic propulsion, man can send a probe over that expanse within 17 years.

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