Fly like seabirds. Found a new way to accelerate space flights
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Using dynamic soaring flight, it is possible to accelerate a spacecraft in interstellar space.
Scientists from McGill University, Canada, believe that journey to the stars on the scale of human life can become a reality. They have proposed a new way of crossing distant space distances, inspired by seabirds, writes ScienceAlert.
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Today, one of the most promising ways to cover interstellar distances in a relatively short time is the use of solar sails on spacecraft. Such sails use the energy of sunlight, which allows the ship to move through space much faster. At least this is the case in theory, and now only the first tests of such solar sails are underway.
Despite all the promise, all solar sails have one drawback, and it lies in the sails themselves. Solar sails must be huge in order to capture as many photons as possible, particles of light that will accelerate the movement of the spacecraft.
Even if you use the lightest known materials to create them, you can still only score a little more than 2 with sunlight % speed of light. This means that the journey to the nearest star will still take several centuries.
But, according to Canadian scientists, the Sun releases not only photons, but also plasma consisting of ions (these are atoms that have an electric charge). Although the Sun releases far fewer high-speed electrons and protons than photons, they are much more powerful.
But such particles can pose a problem for solar sails, as they will transfer their charges to the surface of the material, like static electricity on a sweater in winter, thus creating resistance and changing the shape of the sail.
Scientists believe that by using certain materials , you can create a kind of reflector that will deflect the charged solar wind at a distance of tens to hundreds of kilometers. That is, it will be a kind of magnetic sail that can use the energy of charged particles and this will give a greater speed.
But there is another way, which, according to scientists, may be more effective for long-distance flights. And this theory was inspired by albatrosses, which capture the energy of a headwind, using dynamic soaring flight to gain speed.
The same headwind trick can be used by a spacecraft equipped with a solar sail. But in this case, the headwind will be a turbulent zone at the edge of the solar system, where the solar and interstellar winds meet. A magnetic sail would be able to use the resulting energy to gain even greater flight speed.
According to scientists, even if this technology has not yet been tested at the edge of the solar system, it is still such sails that propel a spacecraft based on solar plasma, can be used to start with their delivery, for example, to Jupiter. And it will take months, not years, as it is now.
Focus already wrote that a test flight of a spacecraft with a solar sail was recently successfully completed.
But another NASA spacecraft with a solar sail had problems on the way to asteroids, as Focus already wrote.