Smartphone-sized spacecraft could be the key to space exploration, study finds

Spaceships are cool, right? Now imagine spaceships the size of your smartphone traveling to the far reaches of our solar system.

Yeah, scientists believe tiny spacecraft could help humans travel extremely long distances that are physically impossible for human beings to bear. For perspective, the closest star system to Earth is 4.37 light-years away (41.2 trillion km).

This distance could be managed by sending tiny spacecraft powered by lasers. It could help tiny spacecraft reach the most distant destinations at high speed, a new study has found.


How it works?

The new study published in Nano Letters claims that a ground-based laser array (1 to 10 meters wide) with powers of 100 kilowatts to 10 megawatts could outrun rocket engines. “Such lasers can already be built today with relatively little investment…We don’t need to wait for a 100-gigawatt laser to become available,” the lead author of told the study, Artur Davoyan of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Our work is a first step towards rapid and inexpensive interplanetary and space missions,” Davoyan said. “We see that a new model of space exploration can emerge where individual users, who typically don’t have access to space, could now spend just a few thousand dollars and launch a true deep space mission. “, he told

Adapted from Nano Letters 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c04188
Adapted from Nano Letters 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c04188

Read also : NASA shares stunning photo of moon clicked by Galileo spacecraft en route to Jupiter

In fact, the scientists behind the study believe that spacecraft for such journeys could weigh 100 grams, “comparable to that of a typical mobile phone”.

While scientists are sure that a spacecraft the size of a mobile phone could carry all the necessary components like spectrometers, accelerometers, particle detectors and cameras, every small spacecraft could be equipped with a different component if necessary.

Scientists are convinced that “light sailing” could be the best way to get spacecraft to another star anytime soon. “Solar sails” are also considered to be effective means of covering long distances.

Laser for space travel

Read also : The United States wants to send a satellite to patrol space around the Moon

What do you think of sending tiny saucers into space to aid exploration? Let us know in the comments below. To learn more about the world of technology and science, keep reading


Choi, CQ (2022, March 6). Tiny laser-powered spacecraft could travel to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond. Space.Com.

Tung, HT, & Davoyan, AR (2022). Low power laser navigation for fast transit spaceflight. Nano-letters, 22(3), 1108-1114.

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