NASA has announced a new vision for space navigation using sunlight as a force.
The Diffractive Solar Sailing Project has raised $2 million in research and development funding.
The sun’s rays exert a force on people and things.
On Earth, it is unobservable – but in the vacuum of space, rays of light can propel even large objects forward.
If successfully designed, solar sails would eliminate the need for expensive fuel and propulsion technologies in spaceflight.
“As we venture further into the universe than ever before, we will need innovative, cutting-edge technologies to propel our missions,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson He said.
Solar sails work like kites in the wind – but instead of a kite, imagine a spacecraft, and instead of the wind the sun works.
“Each photon imparts a tiny amount of momentum, but the Sun pumps out billions and billions of them every second,” Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye explain.
“If we had a spacecraft that was low enough mass, big and reflective enough, the photons could push it up quite a bit.”
However, this thrust goes in one direction – the scientists are working on the grating of the sail plate so that the force can be spread and move the ship in three dimensions.
“A reflexive solar sail is a modern take on the ancient view of optical sails,” said a researcher close to the project.
In fact, solar sails are an old idea that reaches new levels of achievability.
that NBC News The story referred to correspondence between the famous scholars Johannes Kepler and Galileo.
Kepler wrote to Galileo in 1608: “Provide ships or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be those who will encourage even this void.”
Previous attempts to put light sails into space met with frustrating ends – a rocket carrying a prototype exploded before leaving Earth and another sail smash Regardless of the atmosphere.
NASA hopes the new $2 million in funding will push solar sails from theory to reality.
This story originally appeared the sun It is reproduced here with permission.
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