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  1. #1
    _'s Avatar
    _ Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?



    Let's say that for some reason (some version of) we decided to send a probe
    to look around another reasonably close star. We found an interesting
    planet orbiting or a strong indication of intelligent life or a president
    needed to get re-elected.

    Something within 10 light-years.

    Do we today have the necessary technology to do this? Can we send
    something that far, accurately, and get it to stop when it gets there? Can
    we send something from which we would be able to detect the information it
    sends back? What would such a probe use for energy, guidance, telemetry?

  2. #2
    Chris L Peterson's Avatar
    Chris L Peterson Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    On Fri, 21 Mar 2008 12:48:18 GMT, _
    <jtayNOSPAMlor@hfDONTSENDMESPAMx.andara.com> wrote:


    Our current technology would seem to limit us to achieving a maximum
    speed of well under 1/1000 c. Therefore, we'd be talking about a travel
    time of thousands of years. We don't have any sort of technology that
    could keep a machine operating for that long, or keep it powered. If we
    did, current technology could probably handle the guidance, control, and
    communications issues.
    _________________________________________________

    Chris L Peterson
    Cloudbait Observatory
    http://www.cloudbait.com

  3. #3
    Sam Wormley's Avatar
    Sam Wormley Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    _ wrote:

    One challenge would be electronic technology that could operate
    flawlessly for thousand or tens of thousands of years.

    Another--Would there be anybody to listen? Perhaps we would have
    traveled there with "modern" technology.... befor the 21st century
    craft ever go there.


  4. #4
    Chris L Peterson's Avatar
    Chris L Peterson Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    On Fri, 21 Mar 2008 14:26:33 GMT, Sam Wormley <swormley1@mchsi.com>
    wrote:


    I think it's a pretty safe bet that we'll either be extinct (or
    non-technological) by then, or we'll already be there.
    _________________________________________________

    Chris L Peterson
    Cloudbait Observatory
    http://www.cloudbait.com

  5. #5
    Greg Crinklaw's Avatar
    Greg Crinklaw Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    _ wrote:

    Not on a reasonable time scale.


    Ditto.


    No.


    Moot.

    The problem of interstellar travel is far more difficult than science
    fiction would lead one to believe. It would require enormous energy to
    accelerate even a small mass to a great enough speed to get there on a
    timescale of mere years or decades. Time dilation may one-day work in
    favor of interstellar travellers, but if you are sending a probe it buys
    you very little. Even a probe travelling at 100% the speed of light
    (which is impossible) would still take 10 years to get to your star.
    That's the best imaginable case. And in order to "stop" one would have
    to use a similar amount of energy to slow down which also makes the trip
    much longer. If you don't stop, it is difficult to imagine worthwhile
    observations as the craft speeds through the other solar system.

    Even if you could do all that, planets are like pieces of drift wood
    floating on a great lake. It's not like the comic books where you
    magically arrive in orbit around a planet. Getting into orbit around
    another star would be just the beginning. The great distance would
    require the craft to work completely independently. In order to get
    close enough to a planet in order to use whatever tiny instrument you
    were able to carry would require a great deal of time and effort to
    compute accurate orbits for both the planets and the spacecraft. Then
    it could take years to move the craft into an orbit that allowed it
    close passage to even one planet. All this performed by a computer that
    is out of reach of an upgrade or any sort of human command.

    Finally, it would require a very large antenna and very powerful
    transmitter to communicate over interstellar distances; it would have to
    be much more powerful than anything we have used in the solar system.

    Ultimately sending a probe with anything resembling current technology
    would be stupid. The only purpose would be to say we did it (and those
    who *did* would likely be long dead when it finally happened).

    It makes a lot more sense to put these enormous resources into a very,
    very large telescope in orbit around the Sun. You could obtain much the
    same information with a telescope at a much lower cost, in far less
    time, and could be used for more than one planetary system.

    I think the bottom line is that, unless faster than light travel is
    possible (which is extremely unlikely), interstellar probes will never
    make sense. There will never be a "Star Trek" universe where everyone
    is magically in the same time frame, buzzing from world to world and
    communicating in real time. That simply is not the Universe we inhabit.

    What is far more likely is that humanity will go back to its roots:
    nomadic groups expanding independently out into the galaxy with no
    communication with home, or for that matter any home other than what
    they bring with them.

    Greg

    --
    Greg Crinklaw
    Astronomical Software Developer
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA (33N, 106W, 2700m)

    SkyTools: http://www.skyhound.com/cs.html
    Observing: http://www.skyhound.com/sh/skyhound.html
    Comets: http://comets.skyhound.com

    To reply take out your eye

  6. #6
    Mika's Avatar
    Mika Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?




    The will doesn't exist to build nuclear powered engines. During the '50's a
    nuclear
    rocket engine was built and tested but they scraped it completely for
    instance.



  7. #7
    Davoud's Avatar
    Davoud Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    Mika:

    Paint scrapers? That must have been a chore! I'd have painted it with
    stripper then hosed it down.

    Davoud

    --
    usenet *at* davidillig dawt com

  8. #8
    Greg Crinklaw's Avatar
    Greg Crinklaw Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    Mika wrote:

    By whom? The American project Orion never left the paper stage (for
    many reasons that should be obvious).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project..._propulsion%29

    --
    Greg Crinklaw
    Astronomical Software Developer
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA (33N, 106W, 2700m)

    SkyTools: http://www.skyhound.com/cs.html
    Observing: http://www.skyhound.com/sh/skyhound.html
    Comets: http://comets.skyhound.com

    To reply take out your eye

  9. #9
    Tom Hise's Avatar
    Tom Hise Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    On Fri, 21 Mar 2008 13:39:17 -0600, Greg Crinklaw
    <theskyhoundyoureye@yahoo.com> wrote:


    Nuclear thermal engines were built and tested, just not in a flyable form.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_thermal_rocket



  10. #10
    William Hamblen's Avatar
    William Hamblen Guest

    Default Interstellar exploration - do we have the technology today?

    On Fri, 21 Mar 2008 12:48:18 GMT, _
    <jtayNOSPAMlor@hfDONTSENDMESPAMx.andara.com> wrote:


    Not likely. The fastest spacecraft we could send right now would take
    thousands of years to go 10 light years and I can't think of anything
    that would last that long, including civilization.

    Bud

 

 
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