A forewarning, I will be posting about this book in this thread, if you have not read it, be warned of spoilers.
I bought this book, used, from a bookstore, not knowing what it was about or anything of the sort. I have already read it once (when I bought it over a year ago) and am rereading it to absorb more of the details.
To start I will type out the first few pages of it which describes the way they actually get to the planetoid. Sorry for the spelling errors but I am not rereading it to check it. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] My comments will be in bold.
Out past the planets lie the comets. Some of them are so large that although they are ice-covered on the surface like a comet, they have a rocky core like an asteroid. They can be considered cometoids--half comet and half asteroid.
Some think that Pluto is the outermost planet. But Pluto is not a planet. Pluto is a double cometoid consisting of Pluto itself, only two-thirds as big across as the moon, and Charon, half as large as Pluto. The orbit of Pluto-Charon is highly elliptical and tilted 17 degrees out of the ecliptic plane where all real planets orbit. Pluto's density is only 2.4 times that of ice, indicating a small rocky core with a thick covering of ice, but Charon, with its density of only 1.4, is almost all ice(I don't think this is correct, anyones thoughts on this appreciated). Certainly these are cometoids, not planets.
The true outer planet of the Solar system (Must capitalize "Solar" [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]) is Neptune. Its major moon, Triton, is also a cometoid. Triton is made mostly of ice, boasts liquid-nitrogen-driven geysers, and has a tenuous atmosphere. Its average surface temperature is a frigid 38K, or 38 degrees above absolute zero ( K stands for Kelvin, the Kelvin scale. Water melts at about 273K, just for reference). Triton's inclined, retrograde orbit indicates that it was originally a giant cometoid that was formed elsewhere. When it wandered too close to Neptune, it collided with one of Neptune's original moons or its upper atmosphere and was captured, the heat generated by its capture evaporatng much of its original ice.
It is thought that these giant cometoids originated in the Kupier Belt, a wide band of icy bodies of varying size postulated to surround the Sun. (skipping about a paragraph here, just talks about the Oort cloud)...A few years later, shorty before the beginning of the new millenium, the European Infrafred Space Observatory was launched. One of its major finds was 1999ZX. It was the size of Pluto and Triton combined, and orbited at 35AU. (another paragraph talking about how they had not noticed it before) ...Fortunatly, there had been a breakthrough in high-speed interplanetary transport. It was called the cable catapult ( one of the things I like about this book is it uses this idea). Once a payload had been lifted into Earth orbit using large, slow, and costly chemical rockets, the cable catapult could shoot it out through the Solar system at high speed. The catapult consisted of a power supply connected to a long cable that stretched for thousands of kilometers, and a launching motor that rode on the cable. The payload capsule was connected to the launching motor at one end of the cable. The heavy nuclear-thermal-electric power supply then generated a sustained burst of radio-frequency energy, which traveled down the conductive cable where it was absorbed by the launching motor. The launching motor then used magnetic coupling to pull on the conducting cable like a monkey climbing a rope, (bad analogy if you ask me, an acclerating train is better, or at least I think so) and acclerated toward the power supply and the distant planet. Just before the motor reached the power supply it released the payload capsule, which would travel on to the planet, while the launching motor decelerated to a stop on a short stretch of cable on the other side of the power supply, in a position to accelerate again in order to catch an incoming payload.
I mainly wanted to know your guy's thoughts on this book and the ideas that it proposes. That is about it for now, if I do come across another interesting part I will type it out also. Oh yeah, it is a good book, read it. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] -Colt