A laser could be made to send a spacecraft to the Red Planet. This is part of a proposed mission from the group of McGill University, designed to meet a solicitation from NASA. A 10-meter wide array of lasers on Earth would heat hydrogen plasma in a chamber behind the space craft, producing propulsion from hydrogen gas and sending it to Mars in only 45 days.
One of the biggest challenges in the way of colonizing Mars is how to resupply astronauts on the Red Planet quickly. To that end, researchers came up with a plan to use a laser to send a spacecraft to Mars in just 45 days. According to Phys.org, the team designed a system that uses a 10-meter wide laser array to boost an orbiting satellite. Basically, it allowed scientists to supply interplanetary thrusting power from down on Earth.
“Laser-thermal propulsion enables rapid transport missions of one ton with laser arrays the size of a volleyball court,” Emmanuel Duplay, lead author of a paper and former student at McGill University’s Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering Program, told the website.
NASA issued an engineering challenge to design a method of getting to Mars that could carry a 1000 kg payload in no more than 45 days, The team created the concept after this scenario. The system had been detailed in a paper in the journal Acta Astronautica.
The Red Planet’s thin atmosphere will be used after getting there to Mars to “aerobrake” – a potentially dangerous maneuver that rapidly decelerates the ship. While traditional spacecraft would utilize chemical propellents to stop, that required more weight in the payload to carry the fuel.
The design is indeed captivating and offers a lot of promise. But it is still in a very conceptual stage. At the current stage, some annoying rockets need to be handled as they can potentially explode on the launch pad.