Every now and again scientists make a discovery that seems to violate the laws of physics as we know them. A paper has leaked from NASA that indicates that a new type of propulsion drive for space travel actually works despite violating Newton’s third law of physics. That particular law states that every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction. The EM Drive offers the possibility of creating thrust in the vacuum of space without needing fuel.
Imagine that for a minute, the ability to carry enough fuel is one massively limiting factor to human exploration in our solar system. Scientists have stated that the EM Drive could potentially get us to Mars in only 70 days. The way the EM Drive works is by bouncing microwave photons back and forth inside a cone-shaped metal cavity. The pointy end of that cavity generates thrust and propels the drive in the opposite direction.
NASA’s Eagleworks Lab got in on the testing of the EM Drive in 2015 to try and prove if it actually works and the paper on the tests it performed has leaked. This leaked paper shows that the EM Drive works and generates significant thrust. One big caveat there is that the paper hasn’t yet been published in an academic journal, meaning it hasn’t gone through peer-review.
This means there has been no external verification of the results. However, the paper states that error measurements have been accounted for and that the EM Drive was able to generate thrust of 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt in a vacuum. For comparison the fuel swilling Hall thruster generates 60 millinewtons per kilowatt. The scientists admit more testing is needed on the system.
“The test campaign included a null thrust test effort to identify any mundane sources of impulsive thrust, however none were identified,” the team, led by Harold White, concluded in the paper.
“Thrust data from forward, reverse, and null suggests that the system is consistently performing with a thrust to power ratio of 1.2 ± 0.1 millinewtons per kilowatt.”
SOURCE: Science Alert