science

A physicist invents a fusion rocket that could take humans to Mars

Dr Fatima Ibrahimi has invented a new fusion missile that could one day transport humans to Mars

A physicist has invented a new fusion rocket that could take the first humans to Mars 10 times faster than propulsion engines installed in space

  • The new fusion rocket concept could one day take humans to Mars
  • Uses magnetic fields to eject the plasma particles from the missile
  • Current space-proven fusion rockets use electric fields to propel particles
  • The new design lets scientists customize the payout for a task

Dr Fatima Ibrahimi has invented a new fusion missile that could one day transport humans to Mars

Dr Fatima Ibrahimi, who works at the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has created a new fusion missile that could someday transport humans to Mars.

The device uses magnetic fields to launch plasma particles from the rear of the rocket and propel the craft through space.

The use of magnetic fields allows scientists to allocate the amount of thrust to a specific task and the astronauts change the amount of thrust while driving to distant worlds.

Brahimi’s innovations will also transport the heroes of the space fair to the Red Planet ten times faster than current rocket propulsion engines that use electric fields to propel particles.

“I’ve been cooking this concept for a while,” said Brahimi.

The idea came to me in 2017 when I was sitting on the deck and thinking about the similarities between a car exhaust and high-speed exhaust particles.

“As it is running, this tokamak produces magnetic bubbles called plasmoids that are moving at about 20 kilometers per second, which seemed to me a lot like a thrust.”

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Fusion is the force that moves the sun and stars, combining the elements of light into a plasma.

The device uses magnetic fields to launch plasma particles from the rear of the rocket and propel the craft through space

The device uses magnetic fields to launch plasma particles from the rear of the rocket and propel the craft through space

Plasma is the hot, charged state of matter made up of free electrons and an atomic nucleus that accounts for 99% of the visible universe – and is capable of generating massive amounts of energy.

Scientists are working around the clock to repeat the merger in the lab in the hope of harnessing its power to produce electricity for rockets traveling through deep space.

Plasma current impulses that use electric fields to drive particles can only produce a specific low velocity or pulse.

But computer simulations conducted on PPPL computers and the National Center for Scientific Computing for Energy Research, an office of the Department of Energy at the Science User Facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, have shown that the concept of the new plasma propellant can generate exhaust at speeds of up to hundreds of kilometers. Per second, ten times faster than other propulsion engines.

Brahimi said that this faster speed at the start of the spacecraft’s flight could make the exoplanets within reach of astronauts.

She said: “Traveling long distances takes months or years because the specific thrust of the chemical rocket engines is very low, so it takes the vehicle some time to wake up from the speed.”

But if we built thrusters based on magnetic reconnection, then we could complete long-range tasks in a shorter period of time.

Although using fusion to power rockets is not a new concept, the Brahimi engine differs from the pioneering devices in three ways.

The first is that changing the strength of the magnetic fields could increase or decrease the amount of thrust, which would allow for better maneuver across the dark abyss that is space.

“By using more electromagnets and more magnetic fields, you can actually operate a knob to adjust the speed,” said Brahimi.

Second, the new impulse produces motion by ejecting plasma particles and magnetic bubbles known as plasmids.

Plasmoids add force to the thrust and no other propulsion concept incorporates them.

However, the final difference between Brahimi’s and his other concept is that her concept uses magnetic fields to eject plasma particles from the rear of a missile – devices installed in space using electric fields.

Using magnetic fields could be a game-changer, as it allows scientists to allocate the amount of payout to a specific task.

“While other propulsion engines require heavy gas, made of atoms like xenon, in this concept you can use any type of gas you want,” said Brahimi. Scientists may prefer the light gas in some cases because smaller atoms can move more quickly.

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