"No less a critic than C. S. Lewis has described the ravenous addiction that these magazines inspired; the same phenomenon has led me to call science fiction the only genuine consciousness-expanding drug." Arthur C. Clarke

The Pioneer Anomaly

CREDIT: Space.com/NASA

A recent find by researchers at the Higher Technical Institute in Lisbon appears to be changing what we know about gravity and it’s effect on the solar system.  The find is derived from the discovery in the eighties of the Pioneer Anomaly, a force pushing against both of the Pioneer spacecraft as they move away from Earth.

According to what we know about gravity, both should have a normal acceleration as they move farther away from the Sun, but both are about 240,000 miles closer to us than they should have been according to these calculations.  It is really a miniscule distance, but notable merely because it exists.

What causes this deceleration?  Some scientists say it is proof that dark matter exists, which would slow the Pioneer craft as they left the solar system.  Others say that the light pushing against it have a greater effect than previously thought, which would partially validate a short story I wrote recently.  Still others believe that some of the probes’ own nuclear power sources could have caused this anomaly.

There is a wealth of science fiction ideas here: What if dark matter does exist and fills in all the spaces in between the solar systems?  What effect would that have on the light passing through or even the spacecraft?

What if sails could be made that would be pushed by the light as it moves away from the Sun, as I wrote about in my aforementioned short story?  Could interstellar travel be possible if this could push us to near the speed of light?


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