Dr. Fatima Brahimi, of the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has created a new fusion missile that could someday take humans to Mars.
The device uses magnetic fields to launch plasma particles from the rear of the rocket and propel the craft through space
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The use of magnetic fields allows scientists to assign the amount of thrust to a specific task and the astronauts change the amount of thrust while driving to distant worlds.
And Brahimi’s innovations will also transport space heroes to the Red Planet ten times faster than current rocket engines that use electric fields to propel particles.
“I’ve been preparing this concept for a while,” said Ibrahimi. “The idea came to me in 2017 when I was sitting on the deck and thinking about the similarities between the car exhaust and the high speed exhaust particles.”
“While it is running, this tokamak (a station that uses a strong magnetic field to trap hot plasma in the shape of a torus) produces magnetic bubbles called plasmoids moving at about 20 kilometers per second, which seemed to me very much like a thrust,” she explained.
Fusion is the force that moves the sun and stars, and combines the elements of light into plasma.
Plasma is the hot, charged state of matter consisting of free electrons and an atomic nucleus that represents 99% of the visible universe, and is capable of generating enormous amounts of energy.
Scientists are working around the clock to repeat the merger in the lab, hoping to harness its power to produce electricity for rockets that travel through deep space.
Plasma current impulses that use electric fields to push the particles can only produce a pulse or a specific low velocity.
But computer simulations performed on PPPL computers and the National Center for Scientific Computing for Energy Research, a Department of Energy office at the Science User Facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, have shown that the concept of a new plasma propellant can generate exhaust at speeds of up to hundreds of kilometers. Per second, ten times faster than other propulsion engines.
Fatima Ibrahimi said that this faster speed at the start of the spacecraft’s journey could make the outer planets within reach of astronauts.
“It takes months or years to travel long distances because the specific thrust of the chemical rocket engines is very low, so it takes the vehicle some time to wake up from the speed,” she explained.
But if we build thrusters based on magnetic reconnection, then we can complete long-range tasks in a shorter period of time. ”
Although using fusion to power rockets is not a new concept, the Brahimi engine differs from the pioneering devices in three ways.
The first is that changing the strength of the magnetic fields could increase or decrease the amount of thrust, which would allow for better maneuver across the dark abyss that is space.
“By using more electromagnets and more magnetic fields, you can actually operate a knob to adjust the speed,” said Brahimi.
Second, the new impulse produces motion by ejecting plasma particles and magnetic bubbles known as plasmids. Plasmoids add force to the thrust and no other motive concept incorporates it.
However, the third and final difference between Brahimi’s concept and other concepts, is that its concept uses magnetic fields to eject plasma particles from the rear of the missile, devices installed in space using electric fields.
Using magnetic fields could be a game-changer, as it allows scientists to allocate the amount of payout to a specific task.
“While other propulsion engines require heavy gas, made of atoms such as xenon, in this concept you can use any type of gas you want,” Ibrahimi said. Scientists may prefer the light gas in some cases because smaller atoms can move more quickly.
Source: Daily Mail