McGill University and Tau Zero Foundation researchers have proposed a new idea for faster spacecraft propulsion. This idea involves dynamic soaring. Scientists outlined the concept of dynamic soaring. It applies to a quick way to move through space and other possible applications. The paper was published in the journal Frontiers in Space Technology.
Human-built spacecraft have made their way to many of the solar system’s planets and moons over the last several decades. So, creating spacecraft that can reach distant destinations in space much faster is required.
Faster vehicles would allow a better study of relatively close destinations. This includes planets, moons, asteroids, and comets in our solar system. It would also allow for further exploration of space within a reasonable study period.
The researchers noted in this new effort that several new approaches to faster space travel are currently under investigation. These approaches include solar sails. Recently, some researchers have proposed magnetic, electric, and plasma magnet sails. All these sails have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. The researchers are looking into the possibility of creating and using dynamic soaring sails to power a space vehicle.
Dynamic soaring is not a new concept. As birds have been doing it for millions of years. It is a flying technique for birds. Here a bird gains energy by repeatedly crossing the boundaries of masses of air moving at different speeds.
Building a vehicle capable of exploiting the termination shock that occurs in turbulent zones of contrasting stellar winds is required to apply the concept to space travel. Another type of energy is also required to reach such a zone, such as the one at the solar system’s edge.
A directional plasma wave antenna is the most logical. Using both of these technologies, the researchers believe that a craft could reach a destination like Jupiter in months rather than years.