In the 2015 hit film, "The Martian," an astronaut finds himself stuck on Mars trying to survive. He figures it'll take 414 days for a rescue mission to travel from Earth to get him more supplies.
Back in the real world, a rumored new study about a warp drive engine from NASA may have you saying, "414 days? Please. How about 70?" If true, the engine — which has plenty of skeptics in the science community — would do the trick by reportedly making use of bouncing microwaves within an enclosed space. The engine, called the EmDrive, would be powered by electricity generated from solar panels.
The supposed NASA paper on the subject is said to have passed the peer review process and will be published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Journal of Propulsion and Power, according to Yahoo.
An EmDrive engine has been the subject of much debate in the past decade and a half since the idea was floated around 2001 by Roger J. Shawyer, a scientist at a United Kingdom-based research company. It’s easy to see why the idea is attractive: In a world where imaginations have dreamed up spaceships capable of hopping between galaxies, an engine like the EmDrive that could take mankind to Mars in 10 weeks sounds pretty sweet.
There’s one concern commonly voiced by skeptics of the technology, though: Where’s the exhaust? As anyone with a basic understanding of the laws of physics can understand, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, if a rocket is being propelled one way, something has to be going the other way.
But others say maybe we just don’t know how to measure the exhaust and it is still there.
“EmDrive works just like any other engine,” Dr. Arto Annila, a physics professor at the University of Helsinki and the lead author of a paper published in the American Institute of Physics earlier this year, told the Daily Mail.
That paper suggested that perhaps photons coming out of the enclosed space interfere with one another and so it appears that there is nothing there.