Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Let This Work

Philoneist - Philoneist Files chronicles breaking news stories about innovations in science and technology. - Edge Announces 2006 World Question
Physicists at The Australian National University have developed technology for a plasma engine which was recently verified at the Ecole Polytechnique, a research center in France with European Space Agency oversight. Dubbed the Helicon Double Layer Thruster (HDLT), its principal method for generating plasma uses solar power from the sun to generate a magnetic field. A supply of hydrogen is added, which creates a plasma beam.

The physics behind the HDLT are based on aurora, a naturally occurring process where electrically charged gases derived from the Sun collide with the Earth's magnetic field. This produces two plasma layers that instill energy into particles moving from one layer to the next, creating thrust.

Full-scale trials will begin next year. If successful, it will signal a new age for interplanetary space travel. Though less powerful than conventional rockets, its fuel:thrust ratio requires far less energy to obtain movement. Researchers involved with the HDLT project are optimistic that this technology will eventually power a human occupied spacecraft to Mars.
Can I volunteer?

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