NASA photonic propulsion: Mars travel in 3 days could become a reality

February 25, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

NASA’s photonic propulsion will make it possible to travel to Mars in three days. Instead of six months, NASA researchers are crafting a new laser technology known as photonic propulsion, which will propel a giant sail to Mars in as little as three days.

NASA photonic propulsion Mars travel

NASA’s photonic propulsion could permit Mars travel in three days instead of six months. Researchers working for NASA are pleased to announce that after landing on the moon, they now have their sight on Mars, and they might have invented a new technology that could make it possible to accomplish this goal.

A group of physicists in California have created what is called photonic propulsion, which is a laser technology harnessing the power of light. According to the experts, photonic propulsion is a technique that uses light from lasers to produce “thrust to drive spacecraft” and will, therefore, make it possible to get to Mars at much faster speeds.

Philip Lubin, of the University of California Santa Barbara, who is in charge of NIAC, NASA Innovative Advanced Concept, explained:

“There are recent advances which take this from science fiction to science reality. 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.”

At the moment, the technology is “targeted at extremely small probes,” but soon, NASA hopes it will inspire the creation of larger spacecraft that will travel to Mars. Lubin, who believes that humans will successfully “bridge the gap between the small and the large” using photonic propulsion technology, added:

“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.”

According to Mr. Lubin, the technology would not be used immediately for Mars missions. Instead, it could work on a wafer-thin spacecraft that would be equipped with “integrated optical communications, optical systems and sensors combined with directed energy propulsion.” Lubin shared:

“We have to radically rethink our strategy or give up our dreams of reaching the stars, or wait for technology that does not exist. While we all dream of human spaceflight to the stars in a way romanticized in books and movies, it is not within our power to do so, nor it is clear that this is the path we should choose.”

Lubin confirmed that he and his team have received a proof of concept grant from NASA to demonstrate that photonic propulsion could function, and he is already dreaming of sending these probes to the deep ends of the solar system in the near future.

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