Bay 12 Games Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  
Pages: [1] 2 3 4

Author Topic: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb  (Read 14056 times)

PTTG??

  • Bay Watcher
  • Kringrus! Babak crulurg tingra!
    • View Profile
    • http://www.nowherepublishing.com
Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« on: October 17, 2012, 11:44:44 am »

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/10/16/alpha-centauri-has-a-planet/

There is at least one rocky planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B. This is by far the closest exoplanet now known, at about 4.4 lightyears away. Indeed, barring rouge planets, this is as close as non-solar planets can get.

I have already proposed the name Asbolus, a name for a legendary centaur meaning "sooty", as an appropriate designation for this large planet orbiting very close to Alpha Centauri B.

Now, an important thing to consider is, since we are unlikely to find a planet closer than this one, how soon can we get there?

I propose the construction of an incredibly tiny probe- on the order of a few kilograms- which contains a supply of antimatter and a few sensors. Using our most powerful machinery, accelerate this probe to relativistic velocities- say, 0.1-2 C- and program it to arrive, collect data, and then fire small packets of antimatter in such a way to create a powerful pulsed signal of cosmic rays, allowing us to collect the data. In this way, we could get actual pictures of an alien world in only 48 years. We must start now.
Logged
A thousand million pool balls made from precious metals, covered in beef stock.

RedKing

  • Bay Watcher
  • hoo hoo motherfucker
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 12:03:21 pm »

Yeah, we briefly discussed this last night in the Happy thread.

I figure it's up to the Chinese. Or else we can try to plant the rumor that China is going to claim Alpha Centauri, which will get the Republicans to up NASA's budget by about 6 trillion. (Of course, much of that would be spent trying to develop space battleships...but hey, I'm okay with that.)

Pretty much resigned to the fact that barring a revolutionary breakthrough in propulsion and/or anti-aging drugs...I ain't gonna live to see a probe get there. *le sigh*
Logged

Remember, knowledge is power. The power to make other people feel stupid.
Quote from: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.

10ebbor10

  • Bay Watcher
  • DON'T PANIC
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2012, 12:14:02 pm »

10 kg* 1/10c2/2 = 4.493.775.893.684.088 Joules of energy. Which is quite a lot. It's 500 times more than the kinetic energy of the ISS, for example.

Another problem is the fact that the probe can't slow down. It's just going to fly past the system
Logged

Karlito

  • Bay Watcher
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2012, 12:17:01 pm »

accelerate this probe to relativistic velocities- say, 0.1-2 C- and program it to arrive

Easier said than done. It's certainly not possible for a conventional rocket to get there anytime soon, and alternate technologies really aren't there yet. But I suppose since you're already allowing us the ability to produce and store large amounts of antimatter it's beside the point.

EDIT:
10 kg* 1/10c2/2 = 4.493.775.893.684.088 Joules of energy. Which is quite a lot. It's 500 times more than the kinetic energy of the ISS, for example.
Eh, it's a fairly small (relative) error at .1c, but you probably should use the special relativity equations at these velocities (and seriously, haven't you heard of scientific notation?).
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 12:30:13 pm by Karlito »
Logged
This sentence contains exactly threee erors.

miauw62

  • Bay Watcher
  • Every time you get ahead / it's just another hit
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2012, 12:27:09 pm »

AFAIK, storage should be possible (but hasn't been practised) via magnetism.

however, making enough antimatter...
a spoonful would bankrupt the US before it went into the severe depression.
And they have to be kept in seperate containers, IIRC.
Logged

Quote from: NW_Kohaku
they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the raving confessions of a mass murdering cannibal from a recipe to bake a pie.
Knowing Belgium, everyone will vote for themselves out of mistrust for anyone else, and some kind of weird direct democracy coalition will need to be formed from 11 million or so individuals.

PTTG??

  • Bay Watcher
  • Kringrus! Babak crulurg tingra!
    • View Profile
    • http://www.nowherepublishing.com
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2012, 12:37:19 pm »

I'm thinking a dumb projectile type probe, intentionally designed to speed through the system. The antimatter would be something like a couple thousand atoms or something. I'm trying to come up with a way to store enough energy in a few KG to send a signal back 4.4 lightyears. As for propulsion, that tiny probe could be the last stage in a set of stages going all the way down to an ion drive with a few decades of reaction mass and atomic fuel. Once that's all used up, a final ablative laser system gives the small probe/projectile one last burst.

Or we could do all the acceleration with some kind of staged coil gun or railgun. The big expense is we'd want to send thousands of copies with various tradjectories to make sure that at least a few of them have useful information.
Logged
A thousand million pool balls made from precious metals, covered in beef stock.

RedKing

  • Bay Watcher
  • hoo hoo motherfucker
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2012, 12:41:31 pm »

Hmm...a literal "shotgun" approach? I like it (and here's hoping the Centauri don't take it as an act of war)
Logged

Remember, knowledge is power. The power to make other people feel stupid.
Quote from: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.

MonkeyHead

  • Bay Watcher
  • Yma o hyd...
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2012, 12:46:57 pm »

The thing is that if Alpha Cent. B  has this planet, all our best models suggest that there will be others, far more worthy of investigation due to thier lower mass or more desirable orbital position. Lets let the James Webb Telescope (or even the future optical wavelength interferometry planet finding swarm) swing into action first. Either should be able of observing extrasolar systems, far more easier than sending something there.
Logged
This is a blank sig.

MetalSlimeHunt

  • Bay Watcher
  • Gerrymander Commander
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2012, 01:03:28 pm »

Another problem is the fact that the probe can't slow down. It's just going to fly past the system
You could use Alpha Centauri B itself as a reverse slingshot, but getting that close to a star may not be feasible.
Logged
Quote from: Thomas Paine
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
Quote
No Gods, No Masters.

RedKing

  • Bay Watcher
  • hoo hoo motherfucker
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2012, 01:08:53 pm »

The thing is that if Alpha Cent. B  has this planet, all our best models suggest that there will be others, far more worthy of investigation due to thier lower mass or more desirable orbital position. Lets let the James Webb Telescope (or even the future optical wavelength interferometry planet finding swarm) swing into action first. Either should be able of observing extrasolar systems, far more easier than sending something there.
Does seem like we'd be able to build some kind of narrow-focus, high-resolution device to look specifically at Alpha Centauri. Of course, we've been listening to that part of the sky nonstop for 50 years, so it's doubtful there's any kind of sentient civilization there (or if there is, they're pre-industrial).
Logged

Remember, knowledge is power. The power to make other people feel stupid.
Quote from: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.

Karlito

  • Bay Watcher
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2012, 01:22:00 pm »

Life evolves on the scale of billions of years. Even if there was a second Earth in orbit around Alpha Centauri, and the evolution of human-like intelligence was guaranteed, the odds that it would happen at the same time (so our civilizations occur within the same thousand year timeframe) are pretty low.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 01:23:59 pm by Karlito »
Logged
This sentence contains exactly threee erors.

RedKing

  • Bay Watcher
  • hoo hoo motherfucker
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2012, 01:49:46 pm »

All the more reason to find and enslave "civilize" them while we have the upper hand.
Logged

Remember, knowledge is power. The power to make other people feel stupid.
Quote from: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you.

Loud Whispers

  • Bay Watcher
  • They said we have to aim higher, so we dug deeper.
    • View Profile
    • I APPLAUD YOU SIRRAH
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2012, 02:15:16 pm »

Life evolves on the scale of billions of years. Even if there was a second Earth in orbit around Alpha Centauri, and the evolution of human-like intelligence was guaranteed, the odds that it would happen at the same time (so our civilizations occur within the same thousand year timeframe) are pretty low.
The odds are still there. That's one small step for man, one giant boot crushing alienkind.

MetalSlimeHunt

  • Bay Watcher
  • Gerrymander Commander
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2012, 03:07:17 pm »

The truth is that we just don't know enough about the rarity of life and sapient life to make even an educated guess as to the likelihood of finding another species. They are almost certainly out there, but how many there are is the real question. Rare enough and it isn't out of the realm of possibility that we could have the Milky Way to ourselves, which would preclude most interactions with aliens. Even theoretical technology leaves intergalactic travel as extremely long range at best.
Logged
Quote from: Thomas Paine
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
Quote
No Gods, No Masters.

10ebbor10

  • Bay Watcher
  • DON'T PANIC
    • View Profile
Re: Mission Planning to Alpha Centauri Bb
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2012, 03:41:03 pm »

10 kg* 1/10c2/2 = 4.493.775.893.684.088 Joules of energy. Which is quite a lot. It's 500 times more than the kinetic energy of the ISS, for example.
Eh, it's a fairly small (relative) error at .1c, but you probably should use the special relativity equations at these velocities (and seriously, haven't you heard of scientific notation?).

Copy pasting from Calculator is easier, and besides, the rounding errors were rather large. It's not like a billion joules matter much at this scale.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 4