Hovercraft Market to Experience Rise in Demand as Researchers Suggest that Hovering Vehicles might Help Explore Planets

Posted On April 16, 2022     

A levitating vehicle could one day help explore the moon, asteroids, and other planetary surfaces devoid of air. Such other airless bodies can build up an electric field. This can be done due to direct exposure to the sun and surrounding plasma since they lack an atmosphere. This surface charge on the moon is strong enough to levitate dust more than one meter above the ground. The action is similar to how static electricity can make a person's hair stand on end.

Recently, engineers have developed a novel concept for a hovering rover that uses the moon's inherent charge to float. The innovation may contribute significantly to Hovercraft Market as the scientists have finally overcome the size restriction using a levitating rover, boosting demand for hovercrafts.

The team proposed to use the inherent surface charge to lift a glider using Mylar wings. The material has the power to hold the same charge as surfaces on airless bodies naturally. Researchers reasoned that the glider's sufficiently charged surfaces should, in theory, repel each other, in turn, lifting them off the ground. However, because larger planetary bodies have a more robust, counteracting gravitational force, such a system would likely be limited to small asteroids.

The design, which looks like a retro-style disc-shaped flying saucer, employs tiny ion beams to charge the vehicle and augment the inherent charge of the surface. The entire effect is intended to provide a sizeable repelling force between the vehicle and the ground while requiring very little electricity. In the initial feasibility analysis, the researchers showed that such an ion boost should be powerful enough to float a modest, 2-pound spacecraft on the moon and massive asteroids like Psyche.

Ionic-liquid ion sources, which are small ion thrusters, are used in the team's levitating invention. These tiny, microfabricated nozzles are connected to a reservoir of ionic liquid in the form of molten salt at an average temperature. When a voltage is applied, the ions in the fluid are charged and released as a beam through the nozzles with a particular force.

Using a 10-kilovolt ion source and this rudimentary model, the scientists calculated that a small rover weighing approximately two pounds could accomplish levitation. The object could hover about one centimeter above the ground on a vast asteroid-like Psyche. The identical rover would require a 50-kilovolt source to achieve a similar liftoff on the moon.

The present model is intended to anticipate the circumstances needed to accomplish simple levitation, which for a 2-pound vehicle was around 1 centimeter off the ground. Ion thrusters might generate more force with a higher voltage, allowing a vehicle to be lifted higher off the ground. The team added, they could theoretically levitate to far greater heights with improved models.

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