NASA's 'impossible' no-fuel quantum space engine
NASA confirms that its futuristic propeller breaks the rules of physics. A group of NASA scientists has successfully tested an electromagnetic vacuum booster whose performance defies expectations of classical physics and so providing a piece of evidence in favor of a seemingly impossible space thruster design that’s been evoking worldwide skepticism for some time now. The so-called EM Drive is designed to generate momentum by converting electrical energy into microwaves bouncing in a closed space, NASA reported. According to theory, The device (engine) requires an electrical power source to produce its reflecting internal microwaves but does not have any moving parts or require any reaction mass as fuel, something impossible from the standpoint of conventional physics according to one of the most powerful laws in physics is the law of momentum conservation. The law of momentum conservation can be stated as follows.
For a collision occurring between object 1 and object 2 in an isolated system, the total momentum of the two objects before the collision is equal to the total momentum of the two objects after the collision. That is, the momentum lost by object 1 is equal to the momentum gained by object 2.
Seemingly in contravention of the law of conservation of momentum, the team confirmed that the device produces thrust by using electricity, and nothing else. Supporters call them microwave thrusters or quantum vacuum plasma thrusters (QVPT), while most others use the phrase “anomalous thrust device.”
Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that "impossible" microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is definitely going on. Either the results are completely wrong, or Nasa has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion. - Wire
The story begins several years back with a British inventor named Roger Shawyer and hisEmDrive, a prototype rocket engine which he claimed generated thrust by bouncing microwaves around in an enclosed metal funnel. Since no mass or energy emerged from the engine, Shawyer’s claim was another way of saying that he’d found a way to violate the conservation of momentum. In Baez’s words, “this is about as plausible as powering a spaceship by having the crew push on it from the inside.” Shawyer argued that he was exploiting a loophole within general relativity. Baez calls his explanation “mumbo jumbo.”
How it works
According to its inventor, US scientist Guido Fetta, the thruster works as a resonating cavity for microwave radiation. The cavity redirects the radiation pressure to create an unbalanced force, and that force produces a net thrust.
In its study NASA didn't attempt to explain the phenomenon, and instead contented itself with verifying that the system did indeed generate a small amount of thrust, between 30 and 50 micro-Newtons. This is a tiny amount, only enough to levitate a mass of three to five milligrams (a few eyelashes) here on Earth; but, astonishingly, it is a net thrust nonetheless.
"Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma," the study concludes.
The system has many striking similarities with the EmDrive, designed by British aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, although the explanation that Shawyer provides for the working mechanism is quite different from Fetta's or NASA's.
The project is being developed since 2001 by several scientific teams. Although it is premature to conclude that NASA has created a kind of warp drive, the advance could have enormous significance for the future of space missions. A working microwave thruster would radically cut the cost of satellites and space stations and extend their working life, drive deep-space missions, and take astronauts to Mars in 70 days rather than months. Travel to the moon would take only four hours. (Picture: Chris Morgan - Morgans @ NASA April 2009 - Cape Canaveral, Florida)