Friday, 14 October 2016

The Train to Mars - All aboard?

Hello, readers.

Yep! You heard it right. The train to mars has scheduled. NASA has claimed that it would be ferrying people to mars by 2030 and is ‘Closer than ever’ to the red planet mission. The following is the concept by the inventor Charles Bombardier. It is said that you reach the red planet in 2 days!!

The concept hasn’t yet come to life and might seem a bit fictitious. But let me tell you, the scientists must be feeling the way Graham Bell must when he was thinking of talking to a person miles away without shouting at the top of your voice.

To begin with- Why do we want to go to mars? What has caused us to think of leaving the earth? 

Different people have different reasons. Some being- Mars can be a refuge for humans if earth’s temperature or climate become unbearable (Mars is the 2nd most habitable planet). The other reason- to quench curiosity.

Here’s the deal- We need a vessel to ferry people to and fro. To project the vessel, we need massive amounts of fuel. To keep the journey going, we need more fuel. We would need food and fresh water for the passengers.

For the vessel, 50 m long cylinders are being designed. 6 cylinders would be attached end to end. The total length then becomes 300 m (50 times 6). These cylinders would have an array of solar panels (Did I mention that this train has been termed ‘The Solar Express’?). To get this vessel propelled out of Earth’s atmosphere we have rocket launchers. Here, the time of propulsion is critical. The red planet comes to Earth the nearest twice every year. The train would travel at a speed nearly equal to 3000 km/s (1% of light’s speed).

Now we have people on board. For food, we have meals squeezed into tubes. Water will be extracted from comets. The water thus obtained can be used to produce hydrogen and propellant. But the main propulsion system will take the form of ion thrusters. The train can also use gravity to ‘slingshot’ around the planets to gain momentum and reduce fuel consumption.

The concept is currently being worked upon and efforts are being made to bring it to life.

Written by Prajwal Pitlehra
A 12th pass out with science in my pocket and pen in my hand, I hope to make my place in the world.

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