Imagine that instead of being propelled through space by combustion, or phased nuclear detonations, or intermittent bursts of gas, you sail through the emptiness of interstellar space on a sail that catches beams of light? Here’s more from Centauri Dreams:
The take-away from this paper is that thin-film multilayers are a way to produce a viable sail capable of being accelerated by beamed energy at these levels. We already have experience with thin films in areas like the coatings deposited on telescope mirrors, and because the propulsion efficiency is only slightly affected by the angle at which the beam strikes the sail, various forms of curved designs become feasible.
Can a sail survive the rigors of a journey through the gas and dust of the interstellar medium? At 20 percent of c, the question of how gas accumulates in materials needs work, as we’d like to arrive at destination with a sail that may double as a communications tool. Each of these areas, in turn, fragments into needed laboratory work on many levels, which is why a viable effort to design a beamed mission to a star demands a dedicated facility focusing on sail materials and performance. Breakthrough Starshot seems ideally placed to make such a facility happen.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.