As NASA continues to gear up for its planned manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, researchers are investigating technology expected to allow for a trip to the Red Planet in as little as three days.
Currently, scientists are able to get particles moving near the speed of light in laboratories, but that has yet to be possible with large items.
“We look at the macroscopic level -- things like aircraft, cars, spacecraft -- we're pathetically slow,” said University of California at Santa Barbara physics professor Philip Lubin in an interview with NASA 360.
Lubin discussed the possibility of using laser propulsion to cut what is currently estimated to be a months-long journey to just a fraction of that.
“There are recent advances which take this from science fiction to science reality,” Lubin told NASA 360. “There is no known reason why we cannot do this.”
The proposal relies on what's called “photonic propulsion,” which “would use particles of light called photons to propel itself, relying on giant Earth-based lasers rather than photos from the sun's rays,” Morning Ticker reported.
Lubin created a roadmap to develop the laser-based technology in 2015.
“We will never reach even the nearest stars with our current propulsion technology in even 10 millennia,” Lubin wrote in “A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight.” “We have to radically rethink our strategy or give up our dreams of reaching the stars, or wait for technology that doesn't exist.”
However, not everyone is convinced Lubin's plan would work.
Forbes noted similar claims to speed up our galactic travel have often turned out to be impractical. However, the magazine said, “This latest one is different, as the core technology for laser-based propulsion actually exists today.”
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