Astronomers have discovered a new ‘superhighway’ network to travel through the Solar System that could speed up space travel in the future.
In their paper, published in Science Advances, on 25th November 2020, the researchers explained that they observed the structures of the routes, forming a connected series of arches inside the space manifolds, extending from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter to Uranus and beyond.
In order to understand how these arches interact the researchers had to examine orbits of millions of objects such as comets, moons and planets.
Anyways, this newly discovered celestial highway acts over several decades, which is way more better than the hundreds of thousands or millions of years that usually characterize Solar System dynamics.
Researchers from the University of California San Diego came out with a conclusion that such routes are able to drive comets and asteroids near Jupiter to Neptune’s distance in under a decade. They draw that conclusion after collecting data while looking at the orbits of millions of bodies in our Solar System.
Then they computed how they within already-known space manifolds and interact. Anyway, the results need to be studies further but one thing is sure – the highways will make it possible for objects to travel through space much faster than was previously possible.
Agencies such as NASA and ESA could benefit a lot from the space highways since they can use them to get their spacecraft to the outer planets faster.
NASA’s 2001 Genesis mission gathered a sample of solar wind particles and returned them to the Earth for further analysis. It was designed using manifold dynamics. Its forthcoming and Artemis missions to the moon were designed the same way.
In the meantime, the outpost of over a dozen spacecraft missions have become the regions of relative gravitational stability, or else called Lagrange points.
Professor Rosengren said the routes depicted in their study are very fast, which is rather opposite of the slow, tough fuel efficient backlanes used before. He added that except for the interplanetary travel, there are many other new opportunities for the Earth-Moon system which need further treatment.