Monday, April 23, 2007
This is what spaceships may soon use to sail through the emptiness of outer space. It is actually a sail made of mylar that's even thinner than most trash bags. It is designed to capture solar winds or moving photons from sources like the Sun and even other stars to push a spaceship forward to its destination. The idea is sound and some forms of solar sails had already been tested by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). But it is hard to imagine this flimsy apparatus holding up in an extreme environment. Would it someday take humans to the nearest star? Columbus had a hard time sailing to the Americas. I'm sure whoever will use this sail will also have a hard time getting to his destination. The travel time will be very, very slow. The image is courtesy of David Higginbotham.