Thursday, November 13, 2014

Supersonic Laser Propulsion

The effectiveness of current laser-propulsion techniques is limited by the instability of supersonic gas flow, caused by shock waves that “choke” the inlet of the nozzle, reducing thrust. Those effects can be reduced with the help of laser ablation, redirecting the plasma plume so that it flows close to the interior walls of a supersonic nozzle and significantly improving the overall thrust. Courtesy of Y.Rezunkov/IOIE The effectiveness of current laser-propulsion techniques is limited by the instability of supersonic gas flow, caused by shock waves that “choke” the inlet of the nozzle, reducing thrust. Those effects can be reduced with the help of laser ablation, redirecting the plasma plume so that it flows close to the interior walls of a supersonic nozzle and significantly improving the overall thrust. Courtesy of Y.Rezunkov/IOIE





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientists and science fiction writers alike have dreamed of aircraft and spacecraft that are propelled by beams of light rather than conventional fuels. Now, a new method for improving the thrust generated by such laser-propulsion systems may bring them one step closer to practical use.

 

Currently, the maximum speed of a spacecraft is limited by the amount of solid or liquid fuel that it can carry. Achieving higher speeds means that more fuel must be burned — fuel that, inconveniently, has to be carried by the craft and hefted into space. These burdensome loads can be reduced, however, if a laser — one located at a remote location, and not actually on the spacecraft — were used to provide additional propulsive force.

 

A number of systems have been proposed that can produce such laser propulsion. One of the most promising involves a process called laser ablation, in which a pulsed laser beam strikes a surface, heats it up, and burns off material to create what is known as a plasma plume. The outflowing of that plasma plume — essentially, exhaust — generates additional thrust to propel the craft.

 

More - Link >>> http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2014/10/supersonic-laser-propelled-rockets-may-enable-aircraft-exceed-mach-10?et_cid=4240734&et_rid=544605860&location=top 

 

Sources: The Optical Society, ScientificComputing.com .

 

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