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Smartphone-Sized Spaceships Could Hold Key To Space Exploration, Study Finds


Spaceships are cool, right? Now imagine spaceships the size of your smartphone travelling into the far-reaches of our solar system.

Yep, scientists believe tiny spaceships could help humans travel extremely long distances that are physically impossible for human beings to endure. For perspective, the nearest star system to Earth is 4.37 light-years away (that’s 41.2 trillion kms).

This distance could be managed by sending tiny spaceships that are propelled by lasers. This could help tiny spacecraft reach farthest destinations at high speeds, a new study has found.

Spacecraft
iStock

How does it work?

The new study published in Nano Letters claims that a ground-based laser array (1-10 metres wide) with powers of 100 kilowatts to 10 megawatts could outpace rocket engines. “Such lasers can be built already today with a relatively small investment… We do not need to wait till a 100-gigawatt laser becomes available,” study’s senior author Artur Davoyan from University of California, Los Angeles, told Space.com.

“Our work is a first step to fast and low-cost interplanetary and deep space missions,” Davoyan said. “We see that a new model for space exploration can emerge, where individual users, which typically do not have access to space, could now spend just a few thousand dollars and launch a real deep space mission,” he further told Space.com.

Adapted from Nano Letters 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c04188
Adapted from Nano Letters 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c04188

Also read: NASA Shares Stunning Moon Pic Clicked By Galileo Spacecraft On Its Way To Jupiter

In fact, scientists behind the study believe that spacecraft for such trips could weigh 100 grams in mass, “comparable with that of a typical cell phone.”

While scientists are sure that a cell phone sized spacecraft could carry all necessary components like spectrometres, accelerometres, particle detectors, and cameras, each small spacecraft could be equipped with a different component if required.

Scientists are confident that “light sailing” could be the best way to get a spacecraft to another star anytime soon. “Solar sails” are also seen as effective ways to travel long distances. 

Laser for space travel
Q. Zhang/deepspace.ucsb.edu

Also read: US Wants To Send A Satellite To Patrol The Space Around Moon

What do you think about sending tiny saucers into space to aid exploration? Let us know in the comments below. For more in the world of technology and science, keep reading Indiatimes.com.

References

Choi, C. Q. (2022, March 6). Tiny laser-propelled spaceships could travel to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond. Space.Com. 

Tung, H. T., & Davoyan, A. R. (2022). Low-Power Laser Sailing for Fast-Transit Space Flight. Nano Letters, 22(3), 1108–1114. 



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