NASA could be on the verge of a breakthrough. Currently, NASA is working on an advanced propulsion engine, that if cracked, can elevate our space travel to the next level. For decades, spacecraft have been stuck traveling at low chemical speeds, limiting our ability to research and explore space. However, now speeds of over one million miles per hour before 2050 are possible. The NASA institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is funding two high potential concepts.
There are new ion drives being developed right now that could have power levels that are tens thousand times higher. Antimatter propulsion and multi-megawatt ion drives are being developed. The current speeds of spacecraft are quite low in space terms. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is moving at 38,000 mph (61,000 km/h). This speed was achieved mostly by a chemical rocket but also with the assistance of gravity, using it to slingshot the spacecraft out of orbit. Juno, Helios I and Helios II managed to reach speeds of around 150,000 mph using gravitational boosts also. The recently launched Parker Solar Probe will reach 430,000 mph using the Sun’s gravity.
Gravitational boosts are our current best way of achieving higher speeds for our spacecraft. However, this method is also detrimental to our research and exploration as it takes a lot of time to work. It can take many months before the desired speed is achieved and the real mission starts.
The new methods will use 50000 ISP lithium ion thrusters, the first of which will be tested in 4 months. This is part of a NASA NIAC phase 2 study to use lasers to beam 10 megawatts of power into new ion drivers. The recent progress of lasers is largely unknown to the public. The US military is developing lasers that can produce a whopping 100 kilowatts within the next two years.
Laser beam powered ion drives will be up to ten times faster than any previous ion drive. A spacecraft with this technology would take less than a year to get to Pluto.
Jet Propulsion Lab is building and ironing out the many components used in this system. The sail and the ion drives are finally coming together. The hardest part will be creating and sustaining the phased array lasers. Testing voltage will be boosted up to 6000 volts. This will allow the ion drives to be directly driven, which eliminates the need for a lot of electronics and weight. These type of ion drives do have many technical challenges, but predictions show a well-funded project could be successful before 2040.
India Blew up a Satellite. Now A “Space Fence” Is Tracking Its Debris
Last month, India demonstrated its capabilities as a spacefaring nation and drew international criticism when it used a missile to blew up one of its own satellites.
The launch happened to coincide with Lockheed Martin’s test run of a new space monitoring technology called the Space Fence, which can detect and track any unregistered objects orbiting the Earth. According to Space News, that was a stroke of luck that could mitigate damage to people and equipment in space.
The satellite explosion essentially turned the satellite into a cloud of space debris, which could in the future collide with other satellites, scientific instruments, or astronauts in orbit around the Earth — remember “Gravity”?
“We happened to be up during an endurance test and we were very excited to see that the system performed nominally,” Matthew Hughes, Lockheed Martin business development manager, told Space News. “Space fence is all about the ability to identify break ups, maneuvers, closely spaced objects, proximity operations, new foreign launches.”
While Space Fence isn’t an actual blockade in space, it can at least help officials prepare for and plan around collisions.
READ MORE: Indian anti-satellite test proves early test for Space Fence [Space News]
Gateway to HEAVEN? NASA Hubble Telescope finds amazing cross structure at centre of galaxy
AN incredible image of what appears to be a cross at the centre of the galaxy has sparked theories it’s the gateway to heaven.
The image was first released by the space agency in June 1992 – according to hubblesite.org – but has just reemerged on conspiracy website Disclose.tv.
According to hubblesite.org, which first published the image, the cross is due to “absorption by dust and marks the exact position of a black hole”.
It is also 1,100 light-years away from Earth, the website reveals.
It writes: “The darkest bar may be an edge-on dust ring which is 100 light-years in diameter.
“The edge-on torus not only hides the black hole and accretion disk from being viewed directly from Earth, but also determines the axis of a jet of high-speed plasma and confines radiation from the accretion disk to a pair of oppositely directed cones of light, which ionize gas caught in their beam.
“The second bar of the “X” could be a second disk seen edge on, or possibly rotating gas and dust in MS1 intersecting with the jets and ionization cones.”
The incredible find has sparked claims it could prove the existence of heaven.
One commenter wrote on Disclose.tv: “Wow I guess I’ve been wrong all these years!
“This is surely a sign that God exists and he is showing us that heaven resides with the very centre of our galaxy.”
Another wrote: “Interesting. I’d say X marks the spot, but it does look like a crucifix. In fact, it looks like a figure hanging off of a crucifix…”
Second Interstellar Meteor Discovered and This One Hit the Earth
“I was very surprised. I didn’t expect that. I thought we will not see anything. But in retrospect, like any discovery, you say, Oh yeah, of course. How could I be so foolish not to look for that in the first place?”
“That” is — or was – a meteor that was reported over Manus Island in Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014. In a paper that has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Loeb and Harvard undergraduate student Amir Siraj describe how they found the report while reviewing the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies’ catalog of meteor events for objects that had two key ingredients indicating they might be from another galaxy – speed and trajectory.
“We know the motion of the Earth [and] we correct for it—for the gravity of Earth, gravity of the sun, gravity of all the planets.”
Loeb told National Geographic that he and Siraj searched through 30 years of data and found one meteor that had the right combination of both. The meteor was traveling at almost 37 miles per second (134,200 mph or 216,000 km/h) when it disintegrated over Manus Island. That’s too fast to have been slingshot at Earth by a tight loop around the Sun or Jupiter or another planet in the way NASA gives space probes a boost in velocity, which means it was probably fired at us by another star. While there are no pictures of this meteor, the data in the CNEOS catalog indicated an unusual trajectory that, when coupled with its speed, indicated this was most likely an interstellar object that arrived three years before ‘Oumuamua.
“If we identified such a thing in real time, we could take a spectrum and figure out the composition.”
Unfortunately, this one burned up in the atmosphere due to its size — three feet across and weighing about 1,100 pounds. And no, it wasn’t cigar-shaped, so Loeb doesn’t think it was a spaceship. However, it could still have been carrying life forms.
“You can imagine that if these meteors were ejected from the habitable zone of a star, they could help transfer life from one planetary system to another.”
Panspermia! Loeb thinks most of these interstellar objects are much smaller than ‘Oumuamua (1 km long) and will disintegrate before impacting, but much could be learned by beefing up the NEO detection system to catch more of them as they burn up in the atmosphere so their spectrums can be analyzed for mineral content.
That’s not as exciting as finding an alien spaceship, but Avi Loeb seems well on his way to becoming the go-to astronomer for interstellar objects.
Source: Mysterious Universe
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