Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"The Spacecraft Flyby Mystery" - Is There a New Physics Waiting to be Discovered?

When scientists send their spacecraft across the universe, they save fuel by performing “slingshot fly-bys”. This is where, rather than firing up the thrusters, the craft changes its trajectory by harnessing the enormous gravitational pull of a planet. However, this trick has had an unexpected side-effect: it seems to produce a change in speed that no one, since it was first discovered in the early 1990's, can account for.

Experts are intrigued by the fact that while the acceleration is tiny and has no significant effect on NASA missions, it holds great interest because no explanation based on conventional physics and understanding has been found. The effect is so persistent that it could indicate some physics not considered in previous attempts to explain the motions of bodies in the universe.

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