Are you looking for a gift with a difference? How about art by a mad scientist?
|Above: Japan's IKAROS light sail spacecraft, photographed by one of the tiny survey satellites released from it after the sail deployed.|
Not so in space: A spaceship can catch sunlight's push using a large reflective sail. Although slow to accelerate*, eventually it can build immense speeds - probes like JAXA's IKAROS use them today.
The idea might do a lot more: A super-lightweight sail, boosted by powerful lasers, could reach the nearest stars. The laser would be invisible in space… but the sail would shine like a flare, before fading as it accelerated away…
*So Jeremy Clarkson would not approve, but balls to him.
You've read our science facts - have you tried our science fiction? You can pick up our book on Kindle, or as a paperback, by following this link.
|Above A artists impression of sunset over Proxima Centauri B, the nearest exoplanet to Earth.|