A physicist came up with «brake» for the spacecraft, which will fly to alpha Centauri

© Photo : ESO/ Y. BeletskyЛазерный beam on the background of the milky WayA physicist came up with «brake» for the spacecraft, which will fly to alpha Centauri© Photo : ESO/ Y. Beletsky

Miniature interstellar probes that Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner plans to send to alpha Centauri in 2030, it will be possible to slow down when approaching the target, using the so-called «magnetic sails», says the scientist in an article published in Journal of Physics Communications.

«The slowdown in this case would mean that the probe will move about a thousand kilometers per second, which is only 0.3% of the speed of light. On the other hand, even this figure is about 50 times higher than the speed at which we move now, «Voyager» on the interstellar medium,» said Claudius Gros (Claudius Gros) from the Institute of theoretical physics in Frankfurt (Germany).

In April 2016, the renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner told about another «space» initiative is a series of projects Breakthrough Initiatives Breakthrough Starshot. The oligarch has allocated 100 million dollars to build a spacecraft based on the ideas of California physicists under the leadership of Philip Lubina (Philip Lubin) last year.

Its essence lies in the fact, to send to distant planets is not a classic spaceships, and extremely light and flat structure of the retro-reflective material, which will accelerate to near-light speeds with a powerful orbital laser.

Such interstellar «sailing», according to the calculations of American physicists will be able to reach alpha Centauri in 20 years, and will fly between Mars and Earth in just three days without payload, and for a month under a load of 10 tons. The main issue in that and in other case it will be the inhibition of probe – invented his team no idea how to stop laser «sailboat» safe.

Gros suggested to use a different type of space sail, so-called magnetic sail, to reduce the speed of such spacecraft. He is a giant filament of a superconducting material with a length of about 50 or 1,600 kilometers, are attached by several cables to the nano-probes and located him.

This thread, by virtue of the laws of physics, will produce a powerful magnetic field which will face the hydrogen ions contained in the interstellar medium and in planetary systems that will slow down the spacecraft and quickly reduce its speed.

According to the calculations of German physicist, sails this size will be enough to slow down the movement not only of nanoprobes Hawking and Miller, but the larger space ships, whose weight will be several hundred kilograms or even tons. As noted by a physicist, such a ship will be able to fly to the Proxima Centauri system or TRAPPIST-1 for 58 and 12 thousand years.

The creation of such a braking system, as recognized by scientists, will require the development of new types of superconductors, as existing materials have too great a density of 50 km «sail» will weigh about a thousand tons. Overall, Gros proposes to refocus Breakthrough Starshot to travel to the TRAPPIST-1 because of similar technical problems hindering the work «brake» light and fast laser «sailboats».