Science News: Could We One Day Reach Mars in Just 45 Days?

Last Updated: January 26, 2023, 10:15 AM IST

Science News: Could We One Day Reach Mars in Just 45 Days?

Getting to Mars in just 45 days! (Credits: AFP)

One of the difficulties in reaching Mars is the duration of the trip. It can take several months at best, and therefore more than a year for a round trip. However, the solution to speeding things up could perhaps be nuclear power.

As part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, the US space agency is funding a program to develop a nuclear-powered rocket. If this project were to succeed, it would make it possible to cover the distance between the Earth and Mars in a month and a half, potentially revolutionizing space exploration!

One of the difficulties in reaching Mars is the duration of the trip. It can take several months at best, and therefore more than a year for a round trip. However, the solution to speeding things up could perhaps be nuclear power. This is the aim of one of the concepts selected for initial development by the US space agency (NASA) as part of its innovations program dedicated to advancing its space missions. Although it may not ultimately be retained, the project is certainly among the most spectacular of this year’s crop.

With conventional chemical propulsion, it would take (at best) about nine months to send a crew to Mars. To go much faster, the concept in question combines two nuclear propulsion technologies. The first is a thermal propulsion mode, based on gas heated from nuclear fission, until it becomes ionized gas. The second is electric. Here, an electromagnetic field accelerates the thrust considerably. The two combined forces could thus boost the speed of any spacecraft. Theoretically, this bimodal propulsion, if perfected, could make it possible to reach the Red Planet in just 45 days, which was previously unthinkable.

According to Professor Ryan Gosse of the University of Florida, who is responsible for this concept, this bimodal solution could allow the rapid transfer for any manned mission and therefore revolutionize space exploration, to Mars and beyond.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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