Traveling to Mars (safely AND quickly) with plasma rockets

There has been quite a bit of hype about getting people to Mars. But traveling 35 million miles to the red planet will require a new breed of rockets that are much more powerful and efficient than traditional chemical-fueled rockets.

It takes *A LOT* of fuel to get into space. The Saturn V, which launched spacecraft to the moon, required fuel tanks that were taller than the Statue of Liberty. Traveling to Mars, which is 200 times farther than the moon, means that we would need to build an even bigger rocket that can carry 200 times more fuel — a highly impractical quest. 

So NASA researchers are working on a new kind of rocket with electric thrusters that can travel at high speed using less fuel. These plasma rockets can get spacecraft to the moon with one-tenth the tank of fuel used by Saturn V, and are capable of cutting a risky trip to Mars down from two years to less than two months

Even though plasma rockets are ideal for long-term spaceflight, they do have some shortcomings.

To create plasma, a gas-like matter that’s as hot as the sun, radio waves are used to heat a gas propellant. The problem is that during the heating process, charged ion particles are expelled, causing damage to the thruster’s walls that could potentially lead to a catastrophe.

So what if there was a way that the wall could repair itself?

Gary Li, a UCLA aerospace engineering grad student, is figuring out a way to do just that. In the video below, he explains how his research could help humans travel safely and quickly to Mars:

shooting at UCLA. please stay safe everyone and do not leave your classrooms. if you are not yet at class, do not go!! the whole campus is on lockdown.

Another one.

Another one. Another active shooter. Another college campus. Another 2 innocent lives cut short before they even really got to live. Another tragedy.

When is enough, enough? What more does it have to take for gun regulation to be taken seriously? When are we as a nation going to start taking things more seriously.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the tragedy. I’m tired of worrying about the safety of my friends and family across the nation. I’m tired of fear.

Not one more.

EDIT: information after this was posted revealed this was not a double murder as previously thought, but rather a single murder / suicide. Initial reports only reported two bodies and a potential active gunman on the loose. This information was later rectified.

PSA: also, please keep in mind a call for heightened gun regulation IS NOT THE SAME as a gun ban. I am not calling for a repeal of the 2nd amendment. I am not saying people shouldn’t be able to defend yourself. While I do think the idea of an expectation that college kids should pack heat when they go to class in case of a need for a gun fight with an active shooter is ridiculous, I still believe people have the constitutional right to bear arms. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regulate who does and doesn’t get the own a deadly weapon, and what qualifications they must meet.

Watching CNN & this UCLA student is on the phone talking about how she’s in a room with 12-13 other people & how they had to make a makeshift lock because the door doesn’t lock from the inside. Think about that for a second, this girl & her friends are in school, & instead of cramming for Finals, getting ready for summer or studying they’re making a barricade/lock to keep a shooter out of the room they’re hiding in. And when I heard her say that it didn’t even faze me. This is our new normal. This country is royal fucked up.

In this case, it was only two dead. Murder-suicide in a small office. And so America shrugs. Just another incident in the daily parade of gun violence that defines contemporary America. And so two families, and two circles of friends, and a community of students and faculty are left to their grief, and their confusion, and maybe a touch more fear than usual at the recognition that violence can and will strike so close to home.

Ultimately, we should be glad this was a tragedy for fewer people than feared when the phrase “campus shooting” first popped up on screens. But that society will just shrug this off is tragic in its own way. That the nation accepts gun violence as commonplace, as a reasonable trade-off for some romanticized view of every gun owner as a soldier against tyranny, is the continuing tragedy.

And so the deaths will mount.