Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Solar super-sail could reach Mars in a month

Here's c-c-c-Colin!

Space paint could help a spacecraft powered by a solar sail get from Earth to Mars in just one month, seven times faster than the craft that took the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the Red Planet.

It would work by beaming microwave energy up from Earth to boil off volatile molecules from a specially formulated paint applied to the sail.

Boffins have calculated that a one-hour burst of microwaves could accelerate the craft to 60 kilometres per second, faster than any interplanetary spacecraft to date.
"It's pretty cool."
...said a physicist at NASA.

What this really translates into is that we can lose Beagle #3 even quicker.

Disgruntled space boffin Colin Pillinger was heard last night down the pub muttering something about "previously unfathomable impact velocities onto the surface of Mars now being attainable"...

Lost in space quote via mmChronic :)


mmChronic said...

I'll have me a big tin o' that there space paint please.

Merg said...

Yes... but... how do you stop it when it gets there?

Oh... like Beagle? You crash?

mmChronic said...

They'll do some really, really hard sums which calculate exactly how much thrust is needed for the craft to come to an almost complete stop in the atmosphere and then normal descent will commence.

At this point they realise they got their units of measurements mixed up and it erm... um... crashes.

bungers said...

hehehe.. I suppose you just have to bail out, but you'd still be doing a gazillion miles an hour as you plummet to your doom.

If it was me I'd reverse engineer a massive blackhole to act as a brake, and then set up another microwave generator on mars to blast my spaceship back to earth.

Either that, or pull a massive space handbrake turn around Saturn I suppose...

Merg said...

Might as well just aim it in the first place, then... :)

Merg said...

slingshotting 'round planets?

Okay, own up, who bought Bungers the TNG boxed set for Christmas?