Image Credit: NASA Spaceflight
First designed by British scientist Roger Shawyer back in 1999, the controversial EM drive uses electromagnetic waves as fuel, and creates thrust by bouncing those microwaves back and forth within a metal cavity, triggering motion. There’s been a lot of hype about it due to claims it could get humans to Mars in just 10 weeks. The controversy lies in the fact that its principal of thrust defies Newton’s third law- everything must have an equal and opposite reaction.
In the case of a jet, it throws out hot compressed air to move the plane forward and for a rocket, the fuel ejected from the engine thrusts the fuselage forward. Since the EM drive doesn’t use any fuel propellants it doesn’t have an exhaust, and therefore… it can’t produce thrust.
Even though it does.
Now, according to their new peer-reviewed study published in AIP Advances, the EM drive doesn’t actually defy Newton’s third law, because it does produce exhaust. But not the kind of exhaust you may think of…
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