In science fiction,
在科幻小说里
spacecrafts explore every inch of our universe.
太空飞船能到达宇宙的每一个角落
Starships travel at warp speed across the Milky Way.
星际飞船以曲翘速度在银河系里穿梭
Massive space stations drift through the cosmos,
大型的太空站漂浮在宇宙中
harboring ships and spaceplanes from strange planets,
上面停着来自其它星球的航天飞机
orbiting different suns.
而这些星球围绕着不同的恒星公转
Science fiction paints a pretty picture
科幻小说为星际旅行
of interstellar transportation,
描绘出了一幅美好的画面
but will humans ever explore the universe
但人类真的能去到太阳系以外
beyond our solar system?
的宇宙探索吗?
For the last five decades,
在过去的50年里
unmanned cosmic probes have inched closer
无人宇宙探测器确实慢慢在
to exploring the uncharted regions of our galaxy.
向银河系里我们还未涉足的区域靠近
In 1973,
1973年
the British Interplanetary Society
英国星际学会
designed a theoretical spacecraft
设计了一艘理论上能飞离我们
to fly outside of our solar system.
太阳系的理太空飞船
It was a fusion nuclear pulse rocket,
那是一艘核脉冲火箭
propelled by thermonuclear bombs
通过将热核能炸弹在一小块
detonated inside a small magnetic field.
磁场区域中引爆来驱动
In theory,
理论上
these explosions would generate enough force
这些爆炸产生的能量足以使
to launch their spacecraft at speeds
他们的火箭产生高达
up to 18,000 miles per second.
每秒1万8千英里的速度
That’s over 510 times faster
是史上最快的喷气式飞机
than the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird,
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
the fastest jet aircraft ever built.
速度的510多倍
At breakneck speeds,
在如此快的速度下
Project Daedalus would shoot past Mars,
代达罗斯计划就能冲过火星
Jupiter, and Saturn,
木星和土星
break free from the Sun’s magnetic field,
突破太阳的磁场
and perform a one-shot fly-by of Barnard’s Star,
并且能一次性地飞越巴纳德星
about six light years or 35 trillion miles from Earth.
该星距离地球有六光年左右 也就是35兆英里
Project Daedalus ended in 1978
代达罗斯计划终止于1978年
without a working prototype;
未能研发出可运用的雏形机
but the project was a crucial experiment,
但这个计划有着重要的实验意义
which proved interstellar travel was not only possible
它证明了星际旅行不仅是可能的
but on the horizon.
而且正在萌芽
Since Project Daedalus,
代达罗斯计划之后
several revolutionary spacecraft
几艘革命性的航天飞行器
have made the perilous journey
踏上了这段危险的旅程
to the outer boundary of our solar system,
试图飞出我们太阳系的边界
but the first was actually unplanned.
而其中第一艘实际上是个意外
In 1972,
1972年
before Project Daedalus began,
在代达罗斯计划启动之前
Pioneer 10 was designed and launched by NASA
NASA设计并发射了先锋10号飞行器
to fly by the largest planet in our solar system,
让它围绕我们太阳系最大的行星
the gas giant Jupiter.
气态巨星 木星飞行
Pioneer 10 was the first man-made object
先锋10号是第一艘飞过了木星和
to fly by Jupiter and its icy moons,
它冰冷的卫星们的人造飞行器
but its journey was far from finished.
但它的旅程并没有就此结束
After studying Jupiter,
在研究完木星之后
Pioneer passed the main asteroid belt and the dwarf planet, Pluto.
它穿过了木星主环和矮行星冥王星
Pioneer 10 discovered asteroids,
先锋10号在我们太阳系最外层边界处
comets, and icy bodies at the outer limit of our solar system,
发现了很多小行星 彗星 和一些冰状体
where it studied solar winds
它在此处研究太阳风
and provided NASA with crucial information
为NASA未来进一步的星际探索计划
for future interplanetary missions.
提供了重要的资料
While Pioneer 10’s science mission officially ended in 1997,
1997年先锋10号科考服役正式结束后
it remains in the outskirts of our solar system,
它留在了太阳系偏远的地方
billions of miles from Earth,
距离地球十数亿英里
acting as an emissary for our species.
成为了我们种族的特使
The Pioneer 10 carries a gold-anodized aluminum plaque,
先锋10号携带了一块镀金铝板
describing humanity and the location of Earth
上面描绘了人类的模样以及地球的位置
for any lifeforms that may discover our probe
提供给任何可能发现我们这艘
traveling through space.
太空旅行探测器的生命体
If left undisturbed,
如果一直不被打扰
Pioneer 10 is aiming for the red star Aldebaran,
先锋10号打算飞去红色恒星毕宿五
a journey lasting approximately 2 million years.
这段旅程需要大约2百万年
In 1973,
1973年
a sister spaceship, the Pioneer 11,
先锋11号作为姐妹飞行器
followed its predecessor on the long journey to interstellar space.
跟随着前辈踏上了前往星际的遥远旅程
Pioneer 11, carrying a second golden plaque,
先锋11号带了第二块镀金铝板
ended its science mission in 1995.
于1995年结束了它的科考任务
Today, Pioneer 11 is another ghost
如今 先锋11号成了另一个在
ship drifting through our galaxy.
我们银河中漂浮的幽灵飞行器
Unfortunately, contact with both Pioneer 10
不幸的是 我们已经与先锋10号
and Pioneer 11 has been lost.
和先锋11号失去了联系
In the 1970s,
20世纪70年代
NASA launched two more spacecraft,
NASA发射了另外两架航天飞行器
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2,
旅行者1号和旅行者2号
both designed to fly to the outer limit
两架飞行器的设计目标在于飞出
of our heliosphere.
我们日光层的外界
The heliosphere is a “bubble”
日光层是一种“泡沫”
around our solar system
围绕着我们的太阳系
at the edge of the sun’s magnetic field,
位于太阳磁场的边缘
which commonly defines the boundary
一般认为它就是恒星
between stellar and interstellar space.
和星际空间的边界
On its way to the edge of the heliosphere,
在到达日光层边缘的途中
Voyager 1 photographed the surfaces of our gas giants.
旅行者1号拍下了我们的气态巨星们
It discovered active volcanoes on Io,
在木星的卫星之一艾奥星上
one of Jupiter’s moons,
发现了活火山
and closely examined the Rings of Saturn.
并且近距离观察了土星环
Similarly,
与之类似
Voyager 2 researched Uranus and Neptune,
旅行者2号到达了天王星和海王星
becoming the first spacecraft to directly observe
成为了第一艘直接观察到这两颗
either of these distant planets.
遥远行星的飞行器
In 2012,
2012年
forty years after its departure from Earth,
在离开地球40年后
Voyager 1 surpassed the heliosphere
旅行者1号穿越了日光层
and entered interstellar territory.
进入了星际空间
Voyager 2 followed a mere six years later.
短短6年后 旅行者2号也做到了
Like Pioneer 10 and 11,
和先锋10号 11号一样
both Voyager probes are now
两艘旅行者探测器目前
floating away from our solar system,
也漂浮在我们太阳系以外的宇宙
traveling deeper into interstellar space.
在星际空间越行越远
Years after the Pioneer and Voyager missions,
先锋和旅行者计划的若干年后
NASA initiated Project Longshot,
NASA启动了Longshot计划
which designed a theoretical spacecraft
设计了一款以进入半人马座B星
intended to enter the orbit of Alpha Centauri B,
为目标的理论上的飞行器
a star similar in mass and diameter to our Sun.
半人马座B星在质量和直径上都类似于太阳
Alpha Centauri B
半人马座B星
is located in a triple star system
位于三合星系
over 4.3 light years from Earth.
距离地球4.3光年
It would have taken their craft over 100 years
这艘飞行器可能要花超过100年
to cross this unfathomable distance
才能穿过这段非常遥远的距离
and four more years for data to reach our planet.
然后再花4年时间把数据传回我们地球
Another near-interstellar ship,
另一艘靠近星系边界的飞行器
designed by NASA’s New Horizons,
由NASA New Horizons计划设计
launched in 2006
并于2006年发射
and surpassed Pluto in 2015.
于2015年超过了冥王星
Four years later, it arrived in the Kuiper Belt
4年后 到达了柯伊伯带
to examine ancient, miniature worlds
它意在研究由岩石和冰构成的
made of rock and ice.
古老的微型世界
Its research supplied NASA with a critical glimpse
这项研究让NASA获得了有关
into the formation of young solar systems.
太阳系早期形貌的重要线索
By 2043,
预计在2043年
New Horizons may enter interstellar space,
New Horizons有望进入星际空间
where it will conduct a detailed study of space outside the heliosphere.
并对日光层以外的空间进行细致地研究
The next interstellar spacecraft
下一艘要讲的星际飞行器
will not launch until at least the 2030s.
直到21世纪30年代才会发射
NASA plans to slingshot a 1700-pound,
NASA计划弹射一艘1700磅重的
nuclear powered spacecraft around Jupiter
以核能为能源的飞行器 先围绕木星飞行
and again around the Sun
之后再围绕太阳
to propel this probe out of our solar system.
以此将这艘探测器推出我们的太阳系
The spacecraft is called Interstellar Probe,
这艘太空飞行器被称为星际探测器
and it will travel 92 billion miles
它将在短短7年里
in just seven years.
旅行920亿英里
That’s 79 billion miles further than Voyager 1 and Voyager 2
比旅行者1号和2号远了790亿英里
in a fraction of the time.
且用时比它们短得多
Another project, called Breakthrough Starshot,
另一个计划 Breakthrough Starshot
proposed a fly-by of an exoplanet called Proxima Centauri B,
打算低空飞越一颗名为比邻星B性的外行星
over 4.2 light years from Earth.
距离地球超过了4.2光年
Project Starshot theorized an ultralight,
Starshot计划中的飞行器是一架理论上超轻的
proof-of-concept rocket named Star Chip.
概念型火箭 名为Star Chip
Star Chip features a light-powered propulsion system
Star Chip使用的是光能驱动系统
that reaches speeds up to 37,000 miles per second.
速度能达到3万7千英里每秒
Though Star Chip remains conceptual,
尽管Star Chip还在概念阶段
its innovative propulsion system
但其驱动系统的创新
may lay the foundation for interstellar travel
为下个世纪的星际旅行
in the next century.
奠定了基础
Another creative propulsion system is the EmDrive,
另一个创新型驱动系统是EmDrive
also known as the Impossible Drive.
也被人称为“不可能的引擎”
The EmDrive is a theoretical thruster
EmDrive是一个理论上的推进器
that uses reflected microwaves to create huge amounts of thrust
意在运用微波的反弹来产生巨大的推力
without using a propellant like gasoline;
并且不需要运用诸如汽油等燃料
thus violating several laws of physics,
这种理论违背了一些物理学定律
including the conservation of momentum.
其中包括动量守恒定律
There is no working design for the EmDrive,
EmDrive系统并没有可运作的设计成品
but NASA has built and experimented with several prototypes.
但NASA已经构建并试验了几种雏形
So far, the Impossible Drive
目前为止 这个“不可能的引擎”
has lived up to its name.
名副其实
The EmDrive may be physically impossible,
EmDrive系统可能确实是无法实现的
so aerospace engineers
于是航天工程师们
have theorized another propulsion system,
设计出了另一款理论上的驱动系统
replacing nuclear reactors with antimatter thrusters.
用反物质推进器来替代核反应推进器
According to NASA,
根据NASA的研究
antimatter is the most powerful source of fuel known to humanity.
反物质是人类所知的产生能量最大的燃料资源
For comparison,
做个对比
a nuclear spaceflight to Mars
一艘飞往火星的核能航天飞机
would consume tons upon tons of chemical fuel.
会消耗好几吨的化学燃料
The same journey, aboard an antimatter spacecraft,
同样的旅程 在反物质飞行器上
would require only tens of milligrams of antimatter.
只需要几十毫克的反物质燃料
Unfortunately,
遗憾的是
antimatter is rare,
反物质十分稀少
unstable,
不稳定
and incredibly expensive.
还特别的昂贵
This brings us to a staple of science fiction,
这让我们想起科幻小说引出的根本问题
which has become synonymous with interstellar spacecraft over the years:
跟我们这些年对星际飞行器的研究不谋而合
will spaceships ever warp through our galaxy
那就是我们的航天飞行器真得能够以光速
at the speed of light?
曲线飞出银河系吗?
There aren’t any warping starships on the horizon,
还没有任何翘曲飞行的星际飞船问世的消息
but one NASA scientist
但一位NASA科学家
has designed a warp drive on a theoretical craft
已经在一艘飞行器上设计了曲翘飞行
called the IXS Enterprise.
名为IXS Enterprise
Named and modeled after the famous fictional starship,
它的命名和构造都源自著名科幻小说里的星际飞船
the IXS Enterprise uses hypothetical particles
IXS Enterprise 使用了一种被称为奇异物质
called exotic matter
的假设粒子
to travel faster than the speed of light—
能够以超光速的速度飞行
a feat no human-made spacecraft has ever accomplished.
人造航天飞行器从未达到这个成就
In the last 50 years,
在这50年里
we have explored and studied the outer boundary of our solar system,
我们探索 研究了太阳系的外边界
breaking through the heliosphere
突破了日光层
into interstellar space.
进入了星际空间
Now, leaders in the field have set their sights
现在 航空领域的领袖们把他们的目光
on star systems and exoplanets
投向了距离地球几兆英里的
trillions of miles from Earth.
恒星系统和外部行星们
We may not be able to warp across the Milky Way anytime soon;
近期我们可能无法以曲翘的方式飞出银河系
but, over time, as we experiment,
但 随着时间的推移 随着我们继续实验
innovate, and explore,
创新 和探索
our spacecraft may travel out of our solar system
我们的航天飞行器也许就能飞出太阳系
and beyond.
去到更远的地方

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