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Thread: Will we leave the solar system, if so, HOW?

  1. #1

    Will we leave the solar system, if so, HOW?

    HI ALL!

    I would like educated opinions but also wildcard views and perhaps a little imagination. I pose the question; will we leave the solar system? (Nothing too serious but this interests me greatly so would love to hear your thoughts! –

    Also...

    • Will we EVER leave the solar system, what are the main technical and environmental (not political or economic) factors stopping us?

    • If so when will we leave – what’s the best realistic estimate (2100?? – best educated guesses)?

    • What devices / craft are most likely to get us out of the solar system (what are the far out ideas)?

    • Is there much point of visiting another solar system, what’s the chances of our bodies be adaptable to an alien environment?

    • If we do encounter alien life, what’s the procedure?

  2. #2
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    If you count a probe as "we" then we may be close right now. Personally, I would expect that a probe specifically designed to explore the fringes of the solar system (This ignores the stuff that will leave our solar system after a different mission) within 50 years.

    I think the biggest hurdle is the boredom factor followed immediately by environmental problems. The ship that leaves the solar system is going to be looking at a lot of "nothing" for good long stretches, but may have the opportunity to image planets, comets and Kuiper belt items in passing. The main environmental issue is using nuclear power, these types of missions need more that batteries. I would think an ion engine would be a nice touch but for the criteria of just leaving the solar system, an engine is just bonus.

    Getting to another star is a whole 'nother story. I would think that it would be reasonable to launch in the next 50 years, but I would expect no less than a 150 year flight time for the ship. Perhaps it would use a Orion style nuclear propulsion*. Hopefully, it would work but I would expect that mission to be a faster version of the probe to the fringe of the solar system. A disposable probe, that if really luck survives to image another star from within that star system. It unlucky, you get images of items in our solar system faster than the first probe.

    (*Maybe you can "blast" a really tough probe faster. I don't know if that is possible.)

    Edit - As for meeting life, I would suggest that the first probe doesn't try to stop in that solar system. It should fly by and listen very carefully. The second probe should stop and orbit that star at an unmanageable distance for our technology. It should have informational discs about us, but the information should be limited. If the aliens intercept the craft faster than we could do it, we should be very polite and begin a secret program of weapons development. That is half joking. Once we do these two things, the third ship should attempt to establish direct communication and not send anymore ships until invited.
    Solfe

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    If we were willing to spend the money, we could send a fly-thru probe to Alpha Centaurus now. Maybe we could get it up to .1c. If so, then it's 40 years to A. Centaurus, and 4 years to get the info back. The youngest of the designers and builders would still be alive to see the results. The idea has been booted around before. Someone else may remember where (S&T? S.A.?).
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isn’t a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guyblackprince View Post
    • What devices / craft are most likely to get us out of the solar system (what are the far out ideas)?
    If you want far-out ideas you might be interested in this article by Charlie Stross;
    The Myth of the Starship
    Note that Stross does think that interstellar travel might be possible, he just thinks it will be unlike anything we've imagined yet. No spacewarps or wormholes, but dataships, replicators and uploads, all technologies we can only dimly guess at today.

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    "Ever" is a very long time. I'd guess that we will, eventually, though it may be robotically. It won't be any time this century or maybe longer.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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    British Interplanetary Society and others have been on this for 40 years.
    Plenty out there for you to read:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Daedalus
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Project_Longshot

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    Sir: What is the point if you can never communicate with the craft? I can launch a 55 gallon drum with cement in it
    out of the solar system. It would have the same effect . To be simple: There is no return on investment.
    That is a very real and very meaningful statement. Once you think about this in totality, you will begin to percieve
    why it will remain a fool's errand.
    And, by the way, Welcome to Bautforum .
    Best regards,
    Dan

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    I think we'll have a very hard time getting to Mars in the next 25-50 years forget past it. We need something to change for us. Even if life was detected at our nearest neighbor I think we have a lot to deal with before we can make any honest attempt at a mission past Mars.

    When you talk about a mission that will take multiple life times you have morality issues that are considered to extreme for today. What do you think the reaction would be to the first child to die in space because their parents HAD to breed to make the mission viable?

    I think we've got enough to do here in our solar system for the next century to not have to think about a mission further out. I think we have to much to deal with here on Earth to even consider it too. Don't get me wrong I believe in exploration and all but the bang for the buck in sending people out past Pluto just isn't there in my opinion.

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    I think the idea of a generation ship is less likely than just civilization branching outwards as far as possible where resources are. Both rely on one of the next hurdles that we haven't really began to struggle with, surviving permanently and self sufficiently in space. If we can begin the steps of becoming a space faring society, then the slow migration outwards will be the next step. But steps like these are very far in the future. Right now, just getting into space is a challenge.

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    This is always a fun topic to speculate about...

    I usually don't take the 'unknown physics can get us there' approach, so I'm looking at the practical matters of how and when we might send an unmanned probe intending to orbit another star someday.

    danscope's point is a really good one, but surmountable in the long term. The basic idea would require something that today would cost trillions of dollars to build, but in the future, with nano-factories stripmining asteroids, who knows what is financially possible.

    Ultimately, I imagine that such a journey would require a fusion reactor, and the craft, using what we know about science today, would have to be the size of an aircraft carrier or bigger... so building it in space out of materials acquired and refined in low or zero gravity is a requirement.

    Getting back to danscope's point, you could with such a large ship and huge power resources communicate quite a long way, but in the end, you'd rely on building a large communication facility at the destination system as well.

    I'm thinking this is a thousand years away... so whoever is here on this planet will probably be highly genetically manipulated cyborgs... but you can still say "we".
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    I agree we can learn by analizing the probability. Keeping the craft repairable for several centuries is unlikely, and the energy to reach even 1% of c is many time anything likely soon. Collission with millimeter size particles, may also be a show stopper over about 1% of c.
    The data link antenna back to Earth can be several square kilometers reducing the required transmitter power to top amounts presently being produced, but we have not built anything presision that large and surprises are all but certain when we double the size of almost anything the first time. How tight are the dimentional tolerances on extremely high gain antennas?
    In a generation space craft we could end up with 80% of the ship population near useless due to substance abuse, bad attitude, health problems, gentic defects, pre-addolesent and old age. Uthanasia would definately be bad for moral, if you can somehow rationalize the morality. Can we teach one millionth part of the present Earth population how to repair a nuclear reactor, with a robot tutorial, if the one human who knows can't teach a person born on the space craft? Admittedly motivation improves when the nuclear reactor is about to burst, or the drinking water tastes awful. Neil
    Last edited by neilzero; 2012-May-04 at 04:25 PM.

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    A generation ship populated by humans as we know them would probably descent into chaos in a couple of generations, IMO.

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    We'd need a propulsion system that's many orders of magnitude more efficient than what we have.

    For perspective:

    To get a space shuttle sized craft to the nearest star, using current technology and allowing for a travel time of 900 years, we'd need more fuel than the amount of matter that's in the observable universe. (source: NASA)

    So we probably won't be going any time soon unless something equivalent to a miracle happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guyblackprince View Post
    • If so when will we leave – what’s the best realistic estimate (2100?? – best educated guesses)?

    • If we do encounter alien life, what’s the procedure?
    Most likely in 10,000 years if humans still exist. Humans will first hop from Earth to Mars to Jupiter, and then to some
    moons. And then, after all the wars between Mars' colonists wanting independence, and Earth attacking Mars to retake
    said colonies, and then burning down their red house, and other nonesense humans always do, humans will fly off into
    the void of space... never to be heard from again.

    As for alien life, the procedure is to gather Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Rachel Rae, the naked chef,
    Martin Yan, etc. and have an alien cookoff. My jack is on Emeril as he makes a mean cajun duck, and we all know green aliens
    taste like duck, right?
    Last edited by Gomar; 2012-Jul-01 at 03:54 PM.

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    For an experiment, take a hot dog, pop a fork in it a few times and put it in the microwave oven for 7 minutes. Well... you get the idea. Radiation is not good for human tissue , blood and bones.
    And you will get a steady dose of it in a big way for a long time,See? Kind of like that mother from New Jersey who is infatuated with the tanning booths.... in a big way. Does anyone see a problem with that practice??? And there are other problems.

  16. #16
    That masterchef guy did it in halo, went into stasis while computer controlled the whole ship why isnt this plausaible

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    A good start would be extrasolar probes. Dumbo NTR in place of a Centaur with an AIMSTAR payload.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    For an experiment, take a hot dog, pop a fork in it a few times and put it in the microwave oven for 7 minutes. Well... you get the idea.
    No, I don't. What does cooking in a microwave oven have to do with space travel? We aren't going to stick forks in astronauts, and they aren't going to be exposed to a similar microwave flux naturally, nor would there be much point in doing it artificially.


    Radiation is not good for human tissue , blood and bones.
    That depends on the radiation and the dose.


    And you will get a steady dose of it in a big way for a long time,See?
    No. We already are in space. We already get a steady dose of radiation. We also have shielding, and a spacecraft can too.

    Kind of like that mother from New Jersey who is infatuated with the tanning booths.... in a big way. Does anyone see a problem with that practice???
    There's no reason to put astronauts in tanning booths either.

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  19. #19
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    Van,the accumulated dose of radiation , cosmic and otherwise over lifetimes will kill. Anyone who goes into space pays a penalty in absorbed radiation. This is very basic science.
    Don't dispute this. Facts are stubborn things. You can't wish away radiation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Van,the accumulated dose of radiation , cosmic and otherwise over lifetimes will kill.
    No, long term exposure to ionizing* radiation affects cancer rates, but that is dose dependent. Everyone is exposed to ionizing radiation, but not everyone dies from radiation induced cancer.

    Anyone who goes into space pays a penalty in absorbed radiation.
    How much of a penalty? Compared to what? For what missions, and for what ship designs?

    This is very basic science.
    Yet you provided a very poor argument.

    Don't dispute this. Facts are stubborn things.
    What facts? You provided no numbers and no serious argument. You just made some dismissive "radiation is bad" comment with a comparison to microwave ovens and tanning booths. How are microwave ovens and tanning booths even relevant to the subject? Frankly, your comments read very much like a typical Moon hoaxer radiation argument.

    You can't wish away radiation.
    Who would want to? We'd be dead without radiation (sunlight, for example, is quite necessary). But, if you want to make an argument relevant to the subject of interstellar travel, you'll need to present some real detail, with real numbers. What specific radiation issue are you discussing, what is the risk assessment, and what options have you considered to reduce the risk?



    *microwave radiation, for example, is non-ionizing radiation.

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    Hi, You don't have to believe in radiation if you don't want to. But you can't just wish it into the cornfield.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Hi, You don't have to believe in radiation if you don't want to.


    You aren't even reading my posts, are you? And, of course, this is completely unresponsive to my questions. But that doesn't surprise me.

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    A simple google brings us much.
    "Home |Space | News

    Cosmic rays may prevent long-haul space travel
    15:01 01 August 2005 by Rob Edwards
    The radiation encountered on a journey to Mars and back could well kill space travellers, experts have warned. Astronauts would be bombarded by so much cosmic radiation that one in 10 of them could die from cancer.

    The crew of any mission to Mars would also suffer increased risks of eye cataracts, loss of fertility and genetic defects in their children, according to a study by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    Cosmic rays, which come from outer space and solar flares, are now regarded as a potential limiting factor for space travel. "I do not see how the problem of this hostile radiation environment can be easily overcome in the future," says Keran O'Brien, a space physicist from Northern Arizona University, US.

    "A massive spacecraft built on the moon might possibly be constructed so that the shielding would reduce the radiation hazard," he told New Scientist. But even so he reckons that humans will be unable to travel more than 75 million kilometres (47 million miles) on a space mission - about half the distance from the Earth to the Sun. This allowance might get them to Mars or Venus, but not to Jupiter or Saturn. "

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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyfrank View Post
    That masterchef guy did it in halo, went into stasis while computer controlled the whole ship why isnt this plausaible
    Well there are 2 common sci-fi tools. 1 is the hibernation of the crew where they go into a deep sleep and the metabolic rate goes down but still functioning and this is good for trips of a year or so where you want to save resources and worried about cabin fever. The other is cryogenics where the crew is put into stasis and don't even age during the trip allowing trips for as long as you can safely keep the cryogenic equipment running.

    Both have issues in that we got very little clue how to get the former working and how to deal with a body that hasn't moved for a year then expect them to wake up and function and the latter is a bit of a joke honestly. Even though you can have yourself cryogenically frozen after you die your dreaming if you think you'll ever be revived. The freezing process is VERY damaging at the cellular level so we'll have to get by that. Then we have to some how tackle the "Hey do you want to be the first person we freeze?" issue. It is a bit like I don't ever believe humans will go for the "Hey do you want to be the first person through a transporter?" unless we go real sci-fi and recruit condemned criminals as our initial tests or something like that.

    Lots of things are plausible if you believe we'll have some great science to do it but some of the science is going to be very rocky to actually develop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    No, I don't. What does cooking in a microwave oven have to do with space travel? We aren't going to stick forks in astronauts, and they aren't going to be exposed to a similar microwave flux naturally, nor would there be much point in doing it artificially.
    Let us hope not

    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    That depends on the radiation and the dose.
    Yup, we get small doses of radiation all the time. If you live in places like Colorado then you are exposed to something like 3 times the back ground radiation as someone from New England because of all the Uranium in the granite and there have been some papers showing lower rates of some cancers in Colorado and it might be due to pre-cancer cells not dealing as well with the extra radiation. Highly speculative but interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post

    No. We already are in space. We already get a steady dose of radiation. We also have shielding, and a spacecraft can too.
    Yup. Proposed Mars missions have to deal with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post

    There's no reason to put astronauts in tanning booths either.
    Actually there is. Not being in natural sunlight it could be a way for astronauts to produce their vitamin D and there is also a link to mental health in such an environment.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    A simple google brings us much.
    "Home |Space | News
    Yet the article you referenced talks about cosmic rays in the context of small interplanetary spacecraft. In the context of an interstellar spacecraft, which would need to support a population for decades or centuries, with an advanced propulsion system capable of accelerating the ship to a significant fraction of the speed of light and decelerating it again at the destination, cosmic ray shielding is a minor issue. Such ships would have to be far more massive than ships designed for short interplanetary flights, so could provide proportionally more shielding than small ships designed for (relatively) short interplanetary hops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Sir: What is the point if you can never communicate with the craft? I can launch a 55 gallon drum with cement in it
    out of the solar system.
    I seriously doubt that.

    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    It would have the same effect . To be simple: There is no return on investment.
    That is a very real and very meaningful statement. Once you think about this in totality, you will begin to percieve
    why it will remain a fool's errand.
    True but one need only look around to realise fools are not in short supply. While no material or even informational return can be expected from such an errand, it is possible that metaphysical motivations will one day suffice for someone. They did motivate the construction of all those useless religious monuments, after all.

    If it were decided that, for example, spreading life through the cosmos were a moral necessity, then it might be possible to engage in artificial panspermia by firing "seeds" (probes carrying the germs of life pre-adapted to the anticipated target environment, maybe about the size of your 44 gallon drum) at every likely exoplanet. The success rate would probably be very low, but for the mass and energy budget of one generation ship they could fire off millions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whimsyfree View Post
    They did motivate the construction of all those useless religious monuments, after all.
    Please, let's not take the conversation in such directions.
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    Freeman Dyson has suggested that an Orion-type starship could make the trip to Alpha Centauri in about a century. Since the starting mass was over 100,000 tons, it's probably not possible to build this within the next few decades.
    Information about American English usage here and here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    Freeman Dyson has suggested that an Orion-type starship could make the trip to Alpha Centauri in about a century. Since the starting mass was over 100,000 tons, it's probably not possible to build this within the next few decades.
    I just watched a video by Freeman Dyson, and a portion made me think of this thread. At the end of the talk he was ask the question if he was disappointed in the space programs progress of sending humans into space.

    His reply was very interesting. He talked about the Orion Project and his thoughts then and now. Today he see's it where space exploration is separated into two parts, one is simply exploring space (using instruments) and the other is human evolution.

    This is the link to the video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=zq4p2qbE684

    The question gets ask about 51:30 into the video.

    Jim

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