Traveling at close to the speed of light, you will run into many interesting problems that, in theory, have solutions. It’s worth knowing about them before you hit the road, so we recommend watching the NASA video. If you are a fan of science fiction, then you have seen in films and read in books about ships capable of traveling through the entire universe using a warp drive, FTL or “jump” drives, or collapsing space.
Interstellar travel is cool, but the laws of physics tell us that this is simply not possible. According to them and, in particular, Einstein’s theory of relativity, there is no way to reach or exceed the speed of light.
However, the physics that governs our universe allows travel at a speed close to the speed of light, although it would take enormous amounts of energy to reach it. The same laws apply to the problems associated with traveling at such high speeds. Fortunately, NASA solved them and released an animated video explaining the basics of interstellar travel.
“So, you’ve just finished upgrading your spaceship and it is now capable of flying at almost the speed of light. We don’t know how you did it, but congratulations! Before you leave, watch this video to learn more about the dangers of traveling at speeds close to the speed of light, travel times and distances between some popular points in the universe, ”reads the beginning of the video. Without touching on the question of how a spacecraft can reach such speed, the narrator goes directly to the problems associated with travel in the relativistic universe.
These include time dilation, the need for shielding, and the time it takes to get even to the nearest objects, such as the star Proxima Centauri or the Andromeda galaxy. These are very complex problems, and the world’s greatest scientific minds are still looking for solutions.
A good example is Breakthrough Starshot, a craft using a lightsail to fly to Alpha Centauri, which will be launched into space in the coming years. Its speed will be approximately 20% of the speed of light, and the journey will take 20 years.
Working on the Breakthrough Starshot project, scientists solve problems of shielding, communications, select cameras and equipment, the type of sail and its shape, and also think about how the device will slow down when it reaches a distant star. The video was produced by scientists and experts from Goddard Media Studios (GMS) NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The work was directed by Chris Smith, multimedia producer and member of the University Space Research Association (USRA) of Goddard’s Astrophysics Division. Christopher Kim is the lead animator for the video.