A team of researchers has proposed a new idea for rapid space propulsion using the dynamic flight. In their study, the idea of applying the dynamic flight used by different birds to a faster way of traveling in space is proposed.
One of the problems of space travel is not only the efficiency of getting into orbit (space elevators could help us in this endeavor), but also the speed with which we can reach various destinations in our Solar System.
In a new study from McGill University, researchers have explored different new approaches to space travel to increase its speed. Among these, also the solar sails; experts have taken into consideration magnetic, electric and plasma solar sailseach with its pros and cons. The idea presented in the study is to apply dynamic flight to the sails, thus powering the spacecraft.
The dynamic flight it is not a new concept; it is a flight technique used by birds for millions of years (such as the albatross), in which the energy obtained from moving back and forth between air masses of different speeds is exploited.
Similarly, this concept can be applied to spaceflight, using solar winds instead of air. The scientists’ idea is to build a vehicle capable of using the “termination shock“, one turbulent space zone where the solar wind slows down in speed. Obviously to reach these areas (very remote in the Solar System) another form of energy is needed.
Researchers suggest using aplasma wave antennaable to extract energy from interstellar material. By combining both technologies, it would be possible to reach destinations like Jupiter in months rather than years.
According to scientists, this could be the first step towards real interstellar travel to other solar systems. A potential target? The oldest Milky Way solar system near us.