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Supersonic laser-propelled jets get a step closer

Discussion in 'Europe & Russia' started by Marqueur, Oct 31, 2014.

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  1. Marqueur

    Marqueur Peaceful Silence ELITE MEMBER

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    MOSCOW: Scientists and science fiction writers alike have dreamt of aircraft that are propelled by beams of light and not fuel.

    Now, a new method for improving the thrust-generated by laser-propulsion systems may bring them one step closer to practical use, scientists say. The method, developed by physicists Yuri Rezunkov of the Institute of Optoelectronic Instrument Engineering, Russia and Alexander Schmidt of the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia has been described in The Optical Society's (OSA) journal Applied Optics.

    Currently, the maximum speed of a spacecraft is limited by the amount of fuel that it can carry. Achieving higher speeds means that more fuel must be burned — fuel that has to be carried by the craft, researchers said. These burdensome loads can be reduced, however, if a laser — located at a remote location and not 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 systems involves a process called laser ablation, in which a pulsed laser beam strikes a surface, heats it up, and burns off material to create a plasma plume — a column of charged particles that flow off the surface.

    The outflowing of plasma plume generates additional thrust to propel the craft.

    Rezunkov and Schmidt describe a new system that integrates a laser-ablation propulsion system with the gas blasting nozzles of a spacecraft.

    Combining the two systems, researchers found, can increase the speed of the gas flow out of the system to supersonic speeds while reducing the amount of burned fuel.

    The researchers show that the effectiveness of current laser-propulsion techniques is limited by instability of supersonic gases as they flow through the gas nozzle, as well as production of shock waves that "choke" the nozzle. But those effects can be reduced with the help of a laser-ablation plasma plume. Coupling ablation jet with supersonic gas flow through the nozzle, they found, significantly improves the overall thrust. "These techniques can be used not only for launching small satellites but also for additional acceleration of supersonic aircrafts to achieve Mach 10 and more," Rezunkov said.

    Supersonic laser-propelled jets get a step closer - The Times of India
     
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  2. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Getting closer to flying saucers tech:devilwork:
     
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