Skip to comments.Scientists develop fusion rocket technology in lab – and aim for Mars
Posted on 04/06/2013 3:00:31 PM PDT by BenLurkin
Slough and his colleagues are working on a system that shoots ringlets of metal into a specially designed magnetic field. The ringlets collapse around a tiny droplet of deuterium, a hydrogen isotope, compressing it so tightly that it produces a fusion reaction for a few millionths of a second. The reaction should result in a significant energy gain.
"It has gain, that's why we're doing it," Slough said. "It's just that the form the energy takes at the end is hot, magnetized metal plasma. ... The problem in the past was, what would you use it for? Because it kinda blows up."
That's where the magnetic field plays another role: In addition to compressing the metal rings around the deuterium target, the field would channel the spray of plasma out the back of the chamber, at a speed of up to 67,000 mph (30,000 meters per second). If a rocket ship could do that often enough say, at least once a minute Slough says you could send a human mission to Mars in one to three months, rather than the eight months it took to send NASA's Curiosity rover.
(Excerpt) Read more at cosmiclog.nbcnews.com ...
There’s poll with the article. Apparently I’m one of the 2% of respondents who think it will never be possible.
Could this be scaled for commercial energy?
I don’t see how, but I’m probably not the right person to ask.
I know some people in DC I’d like to send to Mars, can I get a group discount?
2% ~ ~!
Just my opinion, but I think anyone willing to go to Mars, must be willing to sacrifice their lives, because it would be a suicide mission.
Definitely. The best the initial travellers could hope to do is set up infrastructure for the survival of future travellers.
We have the technology to terra-form Mars, but it will take at least 200-300 years to make any real progress.
For the ‘Rats..... I’d like to “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.”
So, what happened to Andrea Rossi and his E-cat? Guess all those kids he was going to donate for a cancer cure will have to wait.
I have a dumb question: Is there enough frozen water on Mars that if it were liquid would be enough to fill the Valles Marineris?
If not, then all we could hope for is to have the water (which always seeks the lowest level, to accumulate there?
I avoid the e-cat threads the same way I sued to avoid the Crevo-Devo threads.
He was going to donate kids??
Mars has a lot of water locked up in its ice caps and underground. Perhaps enough to be self-sufficient. The asteroids between Mars and Jupiter could be used to make even more water.
They have the best marbling.
Careful! With that axe, Eugene..
“...send a human mission to Mars in one to three months.’’
Provided they don’t collide with an asteroid. Is this an ion engine?
Yes, plasma (the fourth state of matter) consists of ions and electrons, it is highly conductive and is therefore possible to shape and accelerate it with magnetic fields.
More Power Scotty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It wouldn’t be if we’d spent the last 40 or so years occasionally dropping comets and/or asteroids on the polar regions...
I would never have believed that sunlight could push enough to slowly accelerate an object in space but it can. So there’s no real difference between this ability and a fusion engine.
Everyone here wishing we would terraform Mars to have water is forgetting one massive thing: it has no magnetic field to protect it from solar wind. Without that it will never develop much of an atmosphere, and between that and the 1/3 gravity, water will be inclined to just evaporate.
If you were to put up some kind of mega-massive solar shield between the sun and Mars, well, then, maybe....
There are some very predictable outcomes for certain cancers: finding a cancer victim for a Mars mission should be easy.
I’m glad to see some progress being made. Once we have solid methods of inner solar system travel established then steady progress will be made in engine technology etc. The sad thing is this has taken so long and will probably take another 20 years before any real progress is made toward a real Mars mission. The key is reaching a point where the technology and the will to do it coalesce. One of the reasons satellite launches are so common now is simply because of the economy around it and the demand. When the commercial technology becomes good enough to begin doing things like harvesting near earth bodies for a profit whether it be asteroids or just the moon. I may be wrong but I will be surprised if a man steps on Mars before I’m 90 which is another 50 years.
I don't think it would be proper to call this an ion engine. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.
It is true, as GtG argues, that plasma consists of ions and electrons so it is therefore possible to shape and accelerate it with magnetic fields. However, by that logic, even chemical rockets could be considered ion engines since those high temperature exhaust are also in a plasma state.
But according to the article, this is a fusion reaction and the kinetic energy is a result of the explosive release of the fusion energy. In that sense, it is more like a combustion engine, and the magnetic field serves as sort of a nozzle.
A 'traditional' ion engine does not rely on high kT, heat or explosive forces to achieve high exhaust velocity. Instead, the kinetic energy of an ion engine exhaust is achieved by the acceleration of the ions by an electric field. That is very different that what is described in the article.
Ion engines accelerate Xenon ions to a speed of about 30 miles per sec, which is about 7,500 m/sec.
More like fusion pulse jet rocket engines...
One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces.
Yeah! They'd better get used to the heat. I hear it is very hot where they're going!