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Q & A: Using captured photons as propulsion?

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Most recent answer: 04/21/2014
could one capture compress and then expel light rays in space to achieve light speed i realize the amount of light captured would have to be enormous but would it work since light has no tangible mass?
- keegan cali (age 20)
jenks oklahoma

Hi Keegan,

First of all, no matter what you use for propulsion you can't achieve the speed of light.  However you can do some tricks to use a photon stream to your advantage.  It's called solar sailing, similar to sailing on the water with a wind. Photons carry momentum so if you catch a photon and then reflect it at an angle your direction of momentum will change.  There is an interesting Wiki article on it that describes the technique and posits possible uses:    




(published on 04/21/2014)

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