NASA's Advanced Propulsion Laboratory researchers have been working on a technology that could theoretically get people to Mars in just 70 days.
The well-known as EmDrive rocket engine to generate thrust by bouncing microwaves in a cone chamber without propellant. It was originally developed by British scientist Roger Shawyer in the early 2000s.
Because the engine does not need fuel, technology can theoretically make spaceflight cheaper and more efficient. It can make space missions, especially manned missions, much more feasible on the Red Planet.
Newton's third law of motion states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. Conventional propulsion rockets eject superheated gas and other materials at high velocity through nozzles. However, EmDrive has no exhaust to drive out the opposing reaction that contradicts the laws of physics.
Last year, NASA reported in a peer-reviewed scientific paper that they tested the EmDrive and were able to measure some thrust. Nevertheless, not everyone is convinced. Some remained skeptical and prompted a group of researchers from the Dresden University of Technology to repeat the experiment. The new experiment was done in a vacuum and everything was automated.
"I consider the EMDrive to be an experimental claim ̵
The researchers found that the same effect was observed in earlier experiments. They were able to measure thrust, though it did not seem to come from the machine itself.
The researchers observed that thrust was independent of which direction the engine was pointing. This suggests that it comes from a secondary source, possibly magnetism from Earth. The researchers also noticed that the force generated was more than expected and they were unable to move the engine backwards.
"Special attention is paid to the investigation and identification of sources of error that cause false push signals," Tajmar and colleagues reported. "Our results show that the magnetic interaction of insufficiently shielded cables or engines is an important factor that must be considered for appropriate μN shear measurements."
The results of the experiment were presented at the Space Propulsion Conference 2018 in Spain