NASA showed what a flight at near light speed will actually look like


In the relativistic universe, travel between stellar worlds is extremely slow, as it is limited by the speed of light, while distances are measured in hundreds, and sometimes billions of light years. On the other hand, even the very attempt to reach sublight speed is fraught with so many problems that you will definitely not be bored. NASA has created a training cartoon that reveals the main aspects of such flights.

It is based on the promising project “Breakthrough Starshot”, within which a small probe with a solar sail will be sent to Alpha Centauri. It will be accelerated not only by our star, but also by a super-powerful laser from the Earth, which will allow the apparatus to accelerate to 20% of the speed of light. And then the question automatically arises: how to slow down when the device arrives at its target? What will happen to the colossal amount of energy accumulated during overclocking?

But the probe from the Breakthrough Starshot project is relatively lucky – its speed is not high, and the flight will last 20 years, which gives time to maneuver. True, NASA has not yet figured out how to do this at such speeds. And the crew of such a ship has no one to ask for advice – suitable means of communication have not yet been created. And if a breakdown occurs, and you have to go into outer space for repairs, how will this threaten the astronauts?

The main question is: how to ensure reliable shielding of the spacecraft from the external environment, which is not at all a pure vacuum, but is filled with various kinds of space objects? Even micrometeorites at speeds hundreds of thousands of times less seriously threaten satellites around the Earth. A collision with a comet at sub-light speeds promises a bright, but very short sight.

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