Referring to it as the “œcelestial autobahn,” astronomers have discovered routes by computing how many “millions” of Solar System orbits could fit into known space manifolds. In one of the examples, they found that asteroids near Jupiter could reach Neptune’s distance in less than 10 years, which means that in theory, spacecrafts following these routes could take advantage of the speed to help them to reach their destinations in shorter times than before. It could also help scientists better plan space travel routes for maximum efficiency.
In addition to potentially helping humans travel through space quickly, the discovery of these superhighways could also help astronomers better understand and monitor objects that are near Earth and how they might collide with our planet, thus helping us better prepare for the possibility of a massive impact.
According to the researchers, “Combining observations, theory, and simulation will improve our current understanding of this short-term mechanism acting on the TNO, Centaur, comet, and asteroid populations and merge this knowledge with the traditional picture of the long-term chaotic diffusion through orbital resonances; a formidable task for the large range of energies considered.”