Image Credit: NASA
EmDrive may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Researchers in Germany may have found an explanation for the thrust produced by the controversial drive.
Despite being branded as ‘impossible’ by most scientists, NASA’s electromagnetic propulsion engine has been attracting a lot of interest in recent years as a possible successor to the chemical engines traditionally used in deep space probes and other spacecraft.
First developed back in 2001 by aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, EmDrive allegedly works by converting electrical power in to thrust without the need for propellant through a process that scientists argue is in direct violation of the laws of physics.
Test results obtained by NASA’s own Eagleworks advanced-propulsion lab have proven encouraging, however the exact mechanism responsible for producing the thrust has proven elusive.
Now though, German scientists who have built and tested their own EmDrive in a vacuum chamber have come to the conclusion that this apparent thrust is actually illusory.
Their analysis has indicated that the readings are most likely the result of ‘electromagnetic interaction’ between the device’s power cable and the Earth’s magnetic field.
While their findings don’t completely rule out EmDrive as a viable propulsion system, it does cast doubt on whether it is really quite as revolutionary as people have been making out.