Three samples of humidity condensate that had accumulated behind panels aboard the Russian space station Mir were collected and returned to earth for analysis. As these floating masses of liquid come into contact with the astronauts and the engineering systems, they have the potential to affect both crew health and systems performance. Using a combination of culturing techniques, a wide variety of organisms were isolated included Escherichia coli, Serratia marcescens, and a presumed Legionella species. In addition, microscopic analysis indicated the presence of protozoa, dust mites, and spirochetes. These findings suggest the need for more comprehensive microbial analysis of the environment through the use of new methodologies to allow a more thorough risk assessment of spacecraft.
With its theoretical origins dating back to the early 1920s, the Biefeld-Brown effect was believed to be responsible for the generation of thrust in capacitor configurations exposed to high voltage. This thrust was claimed to be unrelated to corona wind phenomena and to exist in vacuum. These claims, although only published in patents, survived until recent publications for very advanced propulsion concepts. Brown’s and similar work, as well as credible theoretical and experimental studies relating to the Biefeld-Brown effect, are reviewed. Moreover, an experiment was carried out to investigate any thrust not related to corona discharges. No thrust was detected within the accuracy of the experimental setup. This puts new boundaries on any anomalous Biefeld-Brown force. Measurements indicate that such anomalous force must be at least five orders of magnitude below corona wind phenomena and must have at least a two orders of magnitude higher power-to-thrust ratio compared to traditional electric propulsion thrusters. Hence, even if the effect exists, it would not be attractive for space propulsion. The obtained results suggest that corona wind effects were misinterpreted as a connection between gravity and electromagnetism.
続いて以下の序論 (Introduction) を読んでみると、 NASA が1996年から2002年にかけて実施した画期的推進物理学プログラム (BPP) に関連して調査されたということがわかる。このプログラムではワープ推進を始めとした「将来の宇宙推進に使える可能性があるかも？」というネタを怪しいものからまともなものまで片っ端から調べたらしいので、取り上げられた理由は納得できる。引用文中にあまり聞き慣れない「特許請求の範囲」という用語が出てくるが、これは要するに特許の書類のこと。
Because the propellant onboard a spacecraft contributes to a large extent to the overall mass, propellentless propulsion with thrust levels at least comparable to existing electric propulsion thrusters could dramatically reduce current costs for space exploration. Conventional concepts developed in the pursuit of this goal use either electromagnetic tethers (utilizing the Earth’s magnetic field) or photons (solar sails or laser propulsion). NASA launched the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project1 in 1996 to investigate more speculative and exotic concepts, for instance, possible connections between gravitation and electromagnetism, that could be utilized for propulsion. Often appearing in the popular literature and Internet homepages is the Biefeld-Brown effect,2 which is widely believed to show just such a connection and promises a breakthrough in propulsion. Although the description of this effect is based solely on patent claims, and even those claims have been shown to be from a different origin than studies on to gravity, recent papers and patents (even by NASA) revive the Biefeld-Brown topic and repeat the original claims.3-6
This paper will review the literature, including claims and both theoretical and experimental studies related to the Biefeld-Brown effect. Moreover, an experiment has been carried out in hopes of definitively settling the matter. The results, as well as all previous credible studies, suggest that the Biefeld-Brown effect, within the accuracy of the used instrumentation, is not a connection between gravitation and electromagnetism, but a misinterpretation of corona wind phenomena. The phenomena are indeed used for new propulsion concepts, such as drag reduction systems for supersonic aircraft and future launchers.
Millis, M., “Challenge to Create the Space Drive,” Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 13, No. 5, 1997, pp. 577–682.
Brown, T. T., “A Method of and an Apparatus or Machine for Producing Force or Motion,” U.K. Patent No. 300.311, 15 Nov. 1928.
Stein,W., and Rusek, J., “Electrokinetic Propulsion for Exoatmospheric Applications,” International Conf. on Green Propellant for Space Propulsion, European Space Research and Technology Center, June 2001.
Campell, J. W., “Apparatus and Method for Generating Thrust Using a Two Dimensional, Asymmetrical Capacitor Module,” U.S. Patent 6,317,310, granted 13 Nov. 2001.
Serrano, H., “Propulsion Device and Method Employing Electric Fields for Producing Thrust,” U.S. Patent 6,492,784, granted 10 Dec. 2002.
Loder, T. C., III, “Outside the Box Space and Terrestrial Transportation and Energy Technologies for the 21st Century,” AIAA Paper 2002-1131, 2002.