Solar sail using radioactive decay

  • Thread starter udtsith
  • Start date
  • #26
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Thank you for your patience. This something that I have been curious about and it's good to see where it might or might not work. I'll propose this one last thing and then leave it alone. What if instead of a solar reflector (used for traditional radiant reflection) you used a magnetosail (wiki magnetosail). As I understand it, magnetosails are designed to reflect the solar wind (charged massed particles). Alpha particles are +2 charged. Isn't the decay from an alpha emitter pretty much the same thing as the material from the solar wind emitted by the sun (although no electrons).
If an atom spits out an alpha particle then two electrons have to go with it eventually to balance charge. But I don't think they stick to the alpha as it's emitted.
 
  • #27
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
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Ivy, doesn't something similar happen in a Rocket engine? The combustion would normally throw out material in a random direction, however the engine is designed to funnel them all in one direction resulting in thrust.
 

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