On the lengthy journey to transport humans to Mars continue, different research and study has been out to create the safest, fastest mode of transportation to invade the said red planet.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) new Ion Thruster has broken world-record, it can take humans to Mars in just 40 days, says space agency.
NASA’s new X3 thruster, which is being developed by researchers at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the agency and the US Air Force, has broken records in recent test.
The invention is the “hope” that it could be used to ferry humans to Mars.
The X3 is a type of Hall thruster, a design that utilizes a stream of ions to propel a spacecraft.
According to the World’s premier space agency, plasma is expelled to generate thrust, producing far greater speeds than are possible with chemical propulsion rockets.
A chemical rocket tops out at around five kilometers per second (1.86 miles/sec), while a Hall thruster can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometers per second (25 miles/sec). This kind of increase is particularly relevant to long-distance space travel, like a prospective voyage to Mars.
In fact, project team leaders project that ion propulsion technology such as this could take humans to the Red Planet within the next 20 years. Ion engines are also more efficient than their chemical-powered counterparts, requiring much less propellant to transport a similar amount of crew and equipment over large distances.
According to Alec Gallimore, the project lead, cited on various report that “ionic propulsion can go around ten times farther using a similar amount of fuel.”
The development of the technology could be believed by the Sci-fi fans, for them would recognize faster-than-light theoretical forms like the warp drive.
But, speaking on Science itself, citing general relativity, it stipulates that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light in the universe.
However, if we could compact and expand the fabric of spacetime ahead of and behind us, respectively, we could technically be moving faster than the speed of light. However, the scientific consensus so far is that we’re nowhere near this kind of technology.
Recent tests demonstrated that the X3 thruster can operate at over 100kW of power, generating 5.4 Newtons of thrust — the highest of any ionic plasma thruster to date. It also broke records for maximum power output and operating current.
The technology is apparently on track to take humans to Mars sometime in the next twenty years. However, it’s not without its limitations.
In 2018, the team will continue to put the X3 through its paces with a test that will see it run continuously for 100 hours. A shielding system is also being developed that would prevent plasma from damaging the walls of the thruster, allowing it to operate for even longer, perhaps even several years at a time.