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Why We Should Consider a Mission to 550 AU From Sol

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posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 04:44 AM
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www.centauri-dreams.org... and
www.centauri-dreams.org...
www.icarusinterstellar.org...



In my opinion a mission into interstellar space at 550 AU would have several unique benefits.

550 AU is where the suns gravitational lens has it's focus. it is also a type of stellar lagrange point.
Which means something placed there tends to stay in the general area. This would include Oort cloud objects, asteroids and even more exotic possibilities. It also means a probe, telescope or communications relay would need less in the way of station keeping fuel.

It is a long long long way out into interstellar space. Voyager after 30 plus years is only 130 AU away from earth. But that long distance is a plus rather than a minus. To get to 550 AU in a more timely will require the development of faster propulsion, better navigation, better impact protection. This technology progress would naturally acrue to manned space flight as well.

summary of benefits of a 500 AU mission:

a telescope there would have its power multiplied by the solar gravitational lens many thousands of times. by a factor of 10 to the eighth power.
analysis of objects found there such as Oort cloud material, primordial sol disk material, exotic matter, perhaps even derelict alien probes or craft.
SETI. any accidental transmissions from alien civilizations would likewise be amplified thousands of times by 10^8th power.
a communications receiver/transmitter placed there would need a lot less power to transmit to a distant space probe at broadband levels of data bandwidth. 5MW for comms broadband communications with a probe at alpha centauri. much less for 1990 style modem rates.
the benifits of technological development to make the 550 au mission plausible would directly apply to spacecraft engineering.
the experience in interstellar missions in general.




posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 06:02 AM
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a reply to: stormbringer1701
That's extremely limited though. Once the spacecraft is at 600AU, the sun is in just one direction, so that's the only direction you can use to take advantage of the sun's gravitational lensing. So, what would be the one target that's so interesting we would build a telescope to look at that one thing?

The only propulsion I'm familiar with which could get a spacecraft to 600AU relatively quickly is something like project Orion the development of which was never finished. What other propulsion technology within reach could do this in a reasonable time?

If 600AU is really the distance where you want to do your observations, then you'd also need to slow the spacecraft back down to park it there, vastly increasing the fuel requirements versus letting it continue to travel outward like Voyager.

Aren't there better and more economical alternatives?



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 06:59 AM
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Out that far, data sent would take 76 hours or 3 days to get to us, and of course any instructions we send to it would take that same amount of time.

Right now, New Horizons that's on it's way and almost at Pluto is the fastest space craft, traveling at 36,373 Mph. At that speed, it would take 160 years to get to 550 AU, so we would certainly need a faster means of travel to get there in a more reasonable amount of time.



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 02:21 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful
Out that far, data sent would take 76 hours or 3 days to get to us, and of course any instructions we send to it would take that same amount of time.

Right now, New Horizons that's on it's way and almost at Pluto is the fastest space craft, traveling at 36,373 Mph. At that speed, it would take 160 years to get to 550 AU, so we would certainly need a faster means of travel to get there in a more reasonable amount of time.


We already have faster means at least on paper. We just haven't built it yet.



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 02:25 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur
a reply to: stormbringer1701
That's extremely limited though. Once the spacecraft is at 600AU, the sun is in just one direction, so that's the only direction you can use to take advantage of the sun's gravitational lensing. So, what would be the one target that's so interesting we would build a telescope to look at that one thing?

The only propulsion I'm familiar with which could get a spacecraft to 600AU relatively quickly is something like project Orion the development of which was never finished. What other propulsion technology within reach could do this in a reasonable time?

If 600AU is really the distance where you want to do your observations, then you'd also need to slow the spacecraft back down to park it there, vastly increasing the fuel requirements versus letting it continue to travel outward like Voyager.

Aren't there better and more economical alternatives?




A couple of things.

1. The gravitational lens of the Sun is actually a ring.

2. It extends past the 550 AU.

3. Being able to see is super high resolution even in one general direction would be incredible. You're talking about being able to image continents and oceans on terrestrial exoplanets. A radio telescope would also have enormous sensitivity to extremely weak signals.

4. Both of those things in 3 could answer the question of whether life is common in the galaxy and if technological civilizations are common as well.

There's no more economical alternative to get that high a resolution because...

Building any telescope of that size would require building a solar system sized interferometer. To do so is beyond our capabilities and would not come close to what mother nature already gave us in the form of the Sun, so why not just build a probe, send it to the gravitational lens of the Sun and look around.


edit on 18-4-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 02:50 PM
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In short we don't have systems that would function that long.



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 03:01 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur
a reply to: stormbringer1701
That's extremely limited though. Once the spacecraft is at 600AU, the sun is in just one direction, so that's the only direction you can use to take advantage of the sun's gravitational lensing. So, what would be the one target that's so interesting we would build a telescope to look at that one thing?

The only propulsion I'm familiar with which could get a spacecraft to 600AU relatively quickly is something like project Orion the development of which was never finished. What other propulsion technology within reach could do this in a reasonable time?

If 600AU is really the distance where you want to do your observations, then you'd also need to slow the spacecraft back down to park it there, vastly increasing the fuel requirements versus letting it continue to travel outward like Voyager.

Aren't there better and more economical alternatives?




There are at least two private or private public efforts to develop fusion powered rockets. all of the other fusion efforts other than the two big government efforts can be used to power electric propulsion.

VASIMR nuclear could do it.

The russians did develop reactors that could work in space. in fact they flew several of them.

ELF thrusters could do it.

M2p2 could get you there. but stopping would be a problem.

the gravity lensing zone exists in a sphere around the sun. therefore you could move the facility or duplicate the facility.

as to alternatives well sure instrument tech is always improving our ability to resolve details far away. But the exercise has other benefits as i pointed out. it's not just about observation or SETI or comms relays.

But because one of the first places we want to go is likely to be the stars of alpha centauri it is logical to want to observe them, logical to want to have a communications array ready for the inevitable probes or even distant future manned missions. the system is so attractive because you have not one but three chances to find interesting planets. one probe or one manned mission could net three star systems. and *if* you can get to one you can get to all three because they are just .16 to .26 ly apart. There is no way that being capable of getting to alpha proxima; you could not drive on the piddling distance between the set.



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 03:05 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful
Out that far, data sent would take 76 hours or 3 days to get to us, and of course any instructions we send to it would take that same amount of time.

Right now, New Horizons that's on it's way and almost at Pluto is the fastest space craft, traveling at 36,373 Mph. At that speed, it would take 160 years to get to 550 AU, so we would certainly need a faster means of travel to get there in a more reasonable amount of time.


if we cannot develop capable AI for the mission then a manned mission could easily be justified. Assuming of course we have propulsion systems that make the transit time manageable. the facility could have a lot going on. comms relay aside it could point various forms of telescope lens assisted and normal. plus if its in the solar lagrange it might be populated by all sorts of scientifically valuable materials; even some "woo woo" ones.



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 03:07 PM
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originally posted by: samkent
In short we don't have systems that would function that long.
Fortunately; you are so wrong. How long has voyager been on mission? and it may go to 2025 if the RTG holds up.

If there were to be a 550 AU mission it could be powered by bigger RTGs or by fission. or by fusion. i think we have proven that extremely long duration missions are plausible thanks to voyager.
edit on 18-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 03:35 PM
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ha! if voyager were about 4 times faster it would have already made nearly 550 AU.

And if i am not mistaken we have launched probes that went at least part of thier travel about three times faster than voyager. Helios was faster. new horizons is faster. pluto express was supposed to go three times faster. and thats not with some promised propulsion break through like NTR, NEP, Fusion, VASIMR or an EM drive.

and one of the reasons to shoot for such an ambitious mission is to kick space technology development in the butt with spurs. In other words- the very act of committing to doing it would advance needed deep space technologies such as propulsion, impact mitigation, positioning systems and navigation.

If it is to be manned it would also kick up life support, logistics, operations, medical, morale and other human factor handling systems.
edit on 18-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 09:04 PM
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in case it escaped anyone: 10^8 is 10 times itself 8 times.

that's a magnification factor of... ten times ten times ten times ten times ten times ten times ten times ten times ten.

thats 100,000,000.

thats 100 million times the original resolving power of the telescope. or reception threshold or transmitting power of a Radio communications system
edit on 18-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 10:43 PM
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a reply to: stormbringer1701




Fortunately; you are so wrong. How long has voyager been on mission? and it may go to 2025 if the RTG holds up.

Nope I'm not wrong.
Electronics cannot be rated for 100+ years.
Now what power supply do you think can run for 160 Years without repairs?



posted on Apr, 18 2015 @ 11:09 PM
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As i said we can easily quadruple the speed of voyager. and were voyager travelling at that speed it would already be at 550 AU. Thats in 36 years.

So yes you are wrong. furthermore we are developing self repairing materials. and we do know how to make self repairing circuits with memrister based evolving circuits.



posted on Apr, 19 2015 @ 10:55 AM
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originally posted by: samkent
a reply to: stormbringer1701


Now what power supply do you think can run for 160 Years without repairs?


Anything nuclear (cough cough) like Voyagers RTGs.........

Not to mention it doesn't have to last 160 years because it will be travelling a lot faster than voyager. See my "Star Trekin' to Alpha Centauri" thread for some alternatives which are well understood and a LOT faster that Voyager.

edit on 19-4-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 19 2015 @ 03:40 PM
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I'm afraid storm and jade are putting too much belief in 'future now' stories.
I have been in electronics for 40+ years.
They may have ICs that can 'think' around a failure to a limited extent. But that's only a small part of a total electronic system.
You are not going to self repair a transmitter.
You are not going to self repair a power regulator.

You can install redundant circuits but that adds weight and reduces overall reliability.
You run into the law of diminishing returns.
Once you add all the extra systems your speed increase disappears.

RTGs for power are not the panacea you might believe.
Their efficiency is horrible. About 5%.
Their life span is greatly reduced by material degradation.
I doubt you could get a manufacturer to rate one for 50% power beyond 25 years.
I know the Voyagers are doing better than that but it's more luck than design.

This is one mission that is too far and too long. No budget man is going to risk the money needed with little chance of success.



posted on Apr, 19 2015 @ 05:07 PM
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originally posted by: samkent
I'm afraid storm and jade are putting too much belief in 'future now' stories.
I have been in electronics for 40+ years.
They may have ICs that can 'think' around a failure to a limited extent. But that's only a small part of a total electronic system.
You are not going to self repair a transmitter.
You are not going to self repair a power regulator.

You can install redundant circuits but that adds weight and reduces overall reliability.
You run into the law of diminishing returns.
Once you add all the extra systems your speed increase disappears.

RTGs for power are not the panacea you might believe.


Their efficiency is horrible. About 5%.
Their life span is greatly reduced by material degradation.
I doubt you could get a manufacturer to rate one for 50% power beyond 25 years.
I know the Voyagers are doing better than that but it's more luck than design.

This is one mission that is too far and too long. No budget man is going to risk the money needed with little chance of success.


RTG efficiency boils down in part to the efficiency of the thermo electric conversion technology or direct conversion tech which incidentally has doubled since Voyager left home. if voyager had the current RTG tech it could last another 50 years or more.

we have demonstrated self healing alloys. self correcting circuits. we have ion drives that can lap voyager even though it is 17 light hours away from earth.

BTW as far as redundancy goes ELF tube ion drives are tiny. you can have thousands of them in place of one big drive.



posted on Apr, 19 2015 @ 05:19 PM
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one thing i wish voyager had would be a impact counter and an impact KE measuring device. the number of dust motes it hits is relevant to manned interstellar flight despite speed differences. it has ion detectors. but we need to know about bigger impactors. we can use it to calculate adjusted for speed, mass and frontal cross section. a dust mote will bore a chip at orbital speed, and a tunnel at the solar migration speed, and at galactic orbital speed. the difference in speed exacerbates the damage one can expect to encounter. this informs engineering efforts for impact mitigation and avoidance.
edit on 19-4-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 20 2015 @ 04:28 PM
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At 550AU, it would only be suitable for a radio telescope. An optical telescope would need to be located much further out. Anything from 700 odd up to 1000AU.

Direct imaging the surface of another planet would indeed be an amazing feat.

A radio telescope...meh! Even if we found a transmission emanating from another galaxy, it's million - billions of years old. So the species will be long gone & their technological accomplishments all turned to dust.



posted on Apr, 20 2015 @ 04:42 PM
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originally posted by: samkent
I'm afraid storm and jade are putting too much belief in 'future now' stories.


Ion drives are not future technology. We've used them on several long duration space missions. NASA's Dawn spacecraft used one to get to Ceres.

All that storm and I have pointed out is that Ion drive and other non-chemical propulsion technology has been developing quickly.

Dawns ion drive was far more efficient than Deep Space 1's for example.

The same is true of powering such a mission either through advanced RTGs or even beamed power/propulsion.

You may have been in electronics a long time but I question how much you've kept pace with advanced aerospace stuff.
edit on 20-4-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 20 2015 @ 04:53 PM
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originally posted by: JadeStar

originally posted by: eriktheawful
Out that far, data sent would take 76 hours or 3 days to get to us, and of course any instructions we send to it would take that same amount of time.

Right now, New Horizons that's on it's way and almost at Pluto is the fastest space craft, traveling at 36,373 Mph. At that speed, it would take 160 years to get to 550 AU, so we would certainly need a faster means of travel to get there in a more reasonable amount of time.


We already have faster means at least on paper. We just haven't built it yet.




Thats the problem, they are on paper.


Plans, projects and propulsion dont do anything stitting on paper.


NASA seem act like a child with ADD, no long term plans just flitering from one half finnished project to another without getting little to anything done and wasting a # ton of money.

Pick some projects and stick with them. Get a man on mars, get a replacement for keppler and develop a next generation of propulsion.




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