Author Topic: Breakthrough Starshot  (Read 28699 times)

Offline as58

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Breakthrough Starshot
« on: 04/12/2016 03:28 PM »
Apparently some kind of big space exploration initiative will be announced today by billionaire Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking is also involved with it somehow. I've no idea what it is, but the announcement can be watched live:

http://livestream.com/accounts/18650072/events/5143435


Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #1 on: 04/12/2016 03:37 PM »
They did an audio test a few minutes ago.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #2 on: 04/12/2016 03:59 PM »
Broadcast should start in a minute.

Offline WBY1984

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #3 on: 04/12/2016 04:03 PM »
Found this, should give some indication of what they're on about.


Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #4 on: 04/12/2016 04:04 PM »
It started.

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #5 on: 04/12/2016 04:17 PM »
Interstellar travel.

Press conference here.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/science/watch-live-professor-stephen-hawking-7738812

Presser:



Internet Investor and Science Philanthropist Yuri Milner & Physicist Stephen Hawking Announce Breakthrough Starshot Project to Develop 100 Million Mile per Hour Mission to the Stars

within a Generation

 

$100 million research and engineering program will seek proof of concept for using light beam to propel gram-scale ‘nanocraft’ to 20 percent of light speed. A possible fly-by mission could reach Alpha Centauri within about 20 years of its launch.

 

Mark Zuckerberg is joining the board.

 

 

New York – Tuesday, April 12 – Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner was joined at One World Observatory today by renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking to announce a new Breakthrough Initiative focusing on space exploration and the search for life in the Universe.

Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled nanocrafts. These could fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, just over 20 years after their launch.

The program will be led by Pete Worden, the former director of NASA AMES Research Center, and advised by a committee of world-class scientists and engineers. The board will consist of Stephen Hawking, Yuri Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Ann Druyan, Freeman Dyson, Mae Jemison, Avi Loeb and Pete Worden also participated in the announcement.

Today, on the 55th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space flight, and nearly half a century after the original ‘moonshot’, Breakthrough Starshot is launching preparations for the next great leap: to the stars.

Breakthrough Starshot

The Alpha Centauri star system is 25 trillion miles (4.37 light years) away. With today’s fastest spacecraft, it would take about 30,000 years to get there. Breakthrough Starshot aims to establish whether a gram-scale nanocraft, on a sail pushed by a light beam, can fly over a thousand times faster. It brings the Silicon Valley approach to space travel, capitalizing on exponential advances in certain areas of technology since the beginning of the 21st century.

1. Nanocrafts

Nanocrafts are gram-scale robotic spacecrafts comprising two main parts:

·         StarChip: Moore’s law has allowed a dramatic decrease in the size of microelectronic components. This creates the possibility of a gram-scale wafer, carrying cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and communication equipment, and constituting a fully functional space probe.

·         Lightsail: Advances in nanotechnology are producing increasingly thin and light-weight metamaterials, promising to enable the fabrication of meter-scale sails no more than a few hundred atoms thick and at gram-scale mass.

2. Light Beamer

·         The rising power and falling cost of lasers, consistent with Moore’s law, lead to significant advances in light beaming technology. Meanwhile, phased arrays of lasers (the ‘light beamer’) could potentially be scaled up to the 100 gigawatt level.

Breakthrough Starshot aims to bring economies of scale to the astronomical scale. The StarChip can be mass-produced at the cost of an iPhone and be sent on missions in large numbers to provide redundancy and coverage. The light beamer is modular and scalable. Once it is assembled and the technology matures, the cost of each launch is expected to fall to a few hundred thousand dollars.

Path to the stars

The research and engineering phase is expected to last a number of years. Following that, development of the ultimate mission to Alpha Centauri would require a budget comparable to the largest current scientific experiments, and would involve:

·         Building a ground-based kilometer-scale light beamer at high altitude in dry conditions

·         Generating and storing a few gigawatt hours of energy per launch

·         Launching a ‘mothership’ carrying thousands of nanocrafts to a high-altitude orbit

·         Taking advantage of adaptive optics technology in real time to compensate for atmospheric effects

·         Focusing the light beam on the lightsail to accelerate individual nanocrafts to the target speed within minutes

·         Accounting for interstellar dust collisions en route to the target

·         Capturing images of a planet, and other scientific data, and transmitting them back to Earth using a compact on-board laser communications system

·         Using the same light beamer that launched the nanocrafts to receive data from them over 4 years later.

These and other system requirements represent significant engineering challenges, and they can be reviewed in more detail online at www.breakthroughinitiative.org. However, the key elements of the proposed system design are based on technology either already available or likely to be attainable in the near future under reasonable assumptions.

The proposed light propulsion system is on a scale significantly exceeding any currently operational analog. The very nature of the project calls for global co-operation and support.

Clearance for launches would be required from all the appropriate government and international organizations.

Additional opportunities

As the technology required for interstellar travel matures, a number of additional opportunities will emerge, including the following:

·         Contribution to solar system exploration.

·         Using the light beamer as a kilometer-scale telescope for astronomical observations.

·         Detection of Earth-crossing asteroids at large distances.

Potential Planets in the Alpha Centauri system

Astronomers estimate that there is a reasonable chance of an Earth-like planet existing in the ‘habitable zones’ of Alpha Centauri’s three-star system. A number of scientific instruments, ground-based and space-based, are being developed and enhanced, which will soon identify and characterize planets around nearby stars.

A separate Breakthrough Initiative will support some of these projects.

Open and collaborative environment

The Breakthrough Starshot initiative is:

·         based entirely on research that is in the public domain.

·         committed to publishing new results.

·         dedicated to full transparency and open access.

·         open to experts in all relevant fields, as well as the public, to contribute ideas through its online forum.

The list of scientific references and publications, as well as the online forum, can be found at www.breakthroughinitiative.org

Research support

The Breakthrough Starshot initiative will establish a research grant program, and will make available other funding to support relevant scientific and engineering research and development.

 

“The human story is one of great leaps,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “55 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap - to the stars.”

"Earth is a wonderful place, but it might not last forever", commented Stephen Hawking, “Sooner or later, we must look to the stars. Breakthrough Starshot is a very exciting first step on that journey.”

“We take inspiration from Vostok, Voyager, Apollo and the other great missions,” said Pete Worden, “It’s time to open the era of interstellar flight, but we need to keep our feet on the ground to achieve this.”

 

**

 

Breakthrough Starshot Board

Stephen Hawking, Professor, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the University of Cambridge

Yuri Milner, Founder of DST Global

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Facebook

 

Breakthrough Starshot Management and Advisory Committee

·         Pete Worden, Executive Director, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of NASA Ames Research Center

Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center. He was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally. Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics and space sciences. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr. Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Laboratory Director of the Year’ and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.

·         Avi Loeb, Chairman, Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee; Harvard University 

Avi Loeb is a theoretical physicist who has written over 500 scientific papers and 3 books on astrophysics and cosmology, mainly on the first stars and black holes.  TIME magazine selected him as one of the 25 most influential people in space. Loeb serves as the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, where he serves as chair of the Harvard Astronomy department, director of the Institute for Theory & Computation and director of the Black Hole Initiative. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics, and a member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies.

·         Jim Benford, Microwave Sciences

Jim Benford is president of Microwave Sciences. He develops high-power microwave systems from conceptual designs to hardware. His interests include microwave source physics, electromagnetic power beaming for space propulsion, experimental intense particle beams and plasma physics.

·         Bruce Draine, Princeton University

Dr. Draine's research involves the study of the interstellar medium, especially interstellar dust, photodissociation regions, shock waves and the physical optics of nanostructures.  In 2004 he won the Dannie Heinemann Prize for Astrophysics.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

·         Ann Druyan, Cosmos Studios

Ann Druyan is an American author and producer specializing in science communication. She was the Creative Director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message and a co-writer of the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan (1934–1996), whom she married in 1981. She was an executive producer and writer of the follow-up series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, for which she won the Emmy and Peabody awards.

 

·         Freeman Dyson, Princeton Institute of Advanced Study

Freeman Dyson is an American theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. He is professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, a Visitor of Ralston College, and a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

·         Robert Fugate, Arctelum, LLC, New Mexico Tech

Dr. Fugate conducts a research program on atmospheric propagation physics, atmospheric compensation using laser guide star adaptive optics. Dr Fugate’s research program also includes the development of sensors, instrumentation and mount control of large-aperture, ground-based telescopes.

·         Lou Friedman, Planetary Society, JPL

Lou Friedman is an American astronautics engineer, space spokesperson and noted author. He was a co-founder of The Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Bruce C. Murray, and is now Executive Director Emeritus. He led Advanced Projects at JPL including development of solar sails, missions to Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, comets and asteroids, and he was the leader of the Mars Program after the Viking Mission. He is currently consulting on NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission. He co-led studies of that mission and of Exploring the Interstellar Medium at the Keck Institute for Space Studies.

·         Giancarlo Genta, Polytechnic University of Turin

Giancarlo Genta’s areas of professional interest include vibration, vehicle design, magnetic bearings, and rotordynamics. He has written or co-authored more than 50 articles in professional publications and 21 books. He has published extensively in the field of SETI research.

·         Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona

Dr. Guyon designs space and ground-based astronomical instrumentation that aid the search for exoplanets outside the solar system. He is an expert in high contrast imaging techniques (coronagraphy, extreme adaptive optics) for directly imaging and studying exoplanets.

·         Mae Jemison, 100 Year Starship

Dr. Mae C. Jemison leads 100 Year Starship, a multifaceted global initiative to realize all the capabilities required for human interstellar travel beyond our solar system to another star within the next 100 years.  Jemison was a NASA astronaut for six years and the world’s first woman of color in space. She is committed to applying space exploration advances to enhancing life on Earth, and draws upon her background as a physician, engineer, inventor, environmental studies professor, science literacy advocate, development worker in Africa, and founder of two tech start-ups.

·         Pete Klupar, Director of Engineering, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of Engineering, NASA Ames Research Center

Pete Klupar is interested in low cost, high technology efforts with an emphasis on space systems. He has developed and launched more than 50 spacecraft missions. He has spent time in industry, helping to grow a spacecraft startup from 4 employees to over 500. He has also worked in large organizations such as Boeing and Space Systems Loral. He has been involved in government space and aviation programs, most recently at NASA Ames as the director of Engineering. He has been instrumental in reducing the cost of high technology missions, developing several Faster Better Cheaper and Operationally Responsive Space efforts.

·         Geoff Landis, SA Glenn Research Center

Geoff Landis is an American scientist, working on planetary exploration, interstellar propulsion, and advanced technology for space missions. Landis holds nine patents, primarily in the field of improvements to solar cells and photovoltaic devices, and has given presentations and commentary on the possibilities for interstellar travel and construction of bases on the Moon, Mars, and Venus. He is a fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.

 

·         Kelvin Long, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society

Kelvin Long is a physicist, author and the executive director of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. He has worked in the aerospace sector for around fifteen years and he specializes in the subject of interstellar flight, with an emphasis on advanced propulsion concepts.

·         Philip Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara

Philip Lubin is Professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, with research interests in experimental cosmology, cosmic background radiation (spectrum, anisotropy and polarization), satellite, balloon-born and ground-based studies of the early universe, fundamental limits of detection, directed energy systems, and infrared and far-infrared astrophysics.

·         Zac Manchester, Harvard University

Zac Manchester is a researcher and aerospace engineer with broad interests in dynamics and control and a passion for making spaceflight more accessible. He is especially interested in taking advantage of advancements in embedded electronics and computation to build spacecraft that are smaller, smarter, and more agile. He founded the KickSat project in 2011 and has also worked on unmanned aerial vehicles and several small spacecraft missions.

·         Greg Matloff, New York City College of Technology

Greg Matloff is an emeritus professor at the NYC College of Technology. He is an expert in deep space propulsion. Matloff is a fellow of the British interplanetary Society, a Hayden Associate at the American Museum of Natural History and a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. His pioneering research in solar-sail technology has been utilized by NASA in plans for extra-solar probes as well as in consideration of technologies to divert Earth-threatening asteroids. He served as guest professor at the University of Siena, Italy.

·         Claire Max, University of California, Santa Cruz

Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and the Director of the University of California Observatories. Max is best known for her contributions to laser guide star adaptive optics as a technique for reducing the optical distortions of images taken through the turbulent atmosphere. This work began at the JASON group, which she joined in 1983 as its first female member. With her colleagues in JASON, she developed the idea of using an artificial laser guide star tuned to the yellow light emitted by sodium atoms to correct astronomical images. In addition to continuing to develop this technology at the Center for Adaptive Optics, she now uses adaptive optics on the world's largest optical telescopes to study the fate of supermassive black holes in the cores of colliding gas-rich galaxies. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and winner of the American Astronomical Society's Weber Prize in Instrumentation, Princeton University's James Madison Medal and the Department of Energy's E. O. Lawrence award.

·         Kaya Nobuyuki, Kobe University

Kaya Nobuyuki is vice dean of the graduate school of engineering at Kobe University in Japan. Noboyuki has performed numerous space and ground demonstrations. He and an international team from Japan and the European Space Agency successfully tested microwave beam control for an SPS using an ISAS sounding rocket and three daughter satellites deploying a large web: this was known as the “Furoshiki” experiment. He also played a central role in the demonstration of key solar-powered wireless transmission as part of the Orbital Power Plant.

·         Kevin Parkin, Parkin Research

Dr. Kevin Parkin is a British-born scientist who is best known for inventing the Microwave Thermal Rocket. In 2005, he was awarded the Korolev Medal by the Russian Federation of Astronautics and Cosmonautics.  In 2007, Dr. Parkin founded the Mission Design Center at NASA Ames and developed its software architecture, having previously created the ICEMaker software used for spacecraft design by Team-X at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and several other organizations.  >From 2012-2014 he was the Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer of a project that built the first millimeter-wave powered thermal rocket and launched it.

·         Mason Peck, Cornell University 

Peck's academic research focuses on technology development for low-cost space missions, particularly in the areas of propulsion, navigation, and control. He is the former NASA Chief Technologist. He has worked closely with the US Aerospace industry for over 20 years, having held engineering positions at Boeing and Honeywell, and having served as a consultant in space technology. Peck has published articles on microscale spacecraft, next-generation propulsion, low-power space robotics and spaceflight dynamics. He is the co-author of three books on planetary exploration and spacecraft mechanisms.

·         Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Prize winner, Breakthrough Prize winner, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Saul Perlmutter is an American astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Perlmutter shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess, for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

·         Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

Lord Martin Rees is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 2004 to 2012 and President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010. Aside from expanding his scientific interests, Rees has written and spoken extensively about the problems and challenges of the 21st century, and the interfaces between science, ethics and politics. He is a member of the Board of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, the IPPR, the Oxford Martin School and the Gates Cambridge Trust. He co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Future of Life Institute. Lord Rees has worked on gamma-ray bursts and on how the "cosmic dark ages" ended when the first stars formed. Lord Rees is an author of books on astronomy and science intended for the public, and gives many public lectures and broadcasts.

·         Roald Sagdeev, University of Maryland

Roald Sagdeev is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. in 1966 from Moscow State University. He previously served for 15 years as Director of the Space Research Institute, the Moscow-based center of the Russian space exploration program, where he currently holds the title of Director Emeritus. Prior to his work with the Soviet space exploration program, he had a distinguished career in nuclear science, gaining international recognition for his work on the behavior of hot plasma and controlled thermonuclear fusion. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy, the Max Planck Society and the International Academy of Aeronautics.

·         Ed Turner, Princeton University, NAOJ

Ed Turner is Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University. Turner has worked extensively in both theoretical and observational astrophysics, and has published more than 200 research papers on topics including binary galaxies, groups of galaxies, large-scale structure, dark matter, quasar populations, gravitational lensing, the cosmic x-ray background, the cosmological constant, exoplanets and astrobiology – frequently, in all of these areas, with an emphasis on statistical analyses. His recent teaching activities at Princeton include courses in cosmology, in astrobiology and in media coverage of science, and he has been a member of the University’s Committee for Statistical Studies since 1992. 

 

###

Additional information www.breakthroughinitiatives.org.

Link:  www.image.net/breakthroughstarshot

« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 04:18 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #6 on: 04/12/2016 04:23 PM »
Stephen Hawking now speaking.

Offline R7

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #7 on: 04/12/2016 04:25 PM »
A light sail SC to Alpha Centauri?
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #8 on: 04/12/2016 04:27 PM »
Freeman Dyson now speaking.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #9 on: 04/12/2016 04:29 PM »
Wait a minute!  Wasn't Hawking the one 'fear mongering' about drawing the attention of aliens in recent years?

Now he wants to start shooting lasers at nearby stars pushing micro-sats...
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Navier–Stokes

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #10 on: 04/12/2016 04:30 PM »
From duplicate thread:
Interstellar travel.

Press conference here.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/science/watch-live-professor-stephen-hawking-7738812

Presser:



Internet Investor and Science Philanthropist Yuri Milner & Physicist Stephen Hawking Announce Breakthrough Starshot Project to Develop 100 Million Mile per Hour Mission to the Stars

within a Generation

 

$100 million research and engineering program will seek proof of concept for using light beam to propel gram-scale ‘nanocraft’ to 20 percent of light speed. A possible fly-by mission could reach Alpha Centauri within about 20 years of its launch.

 

Mark Zuckerberg is joining the board.

 

 

New York – Tuesday, April 12 – Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner was joined at One World Observatory today by renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking to announce a new Breakthrough Initiative focusing on space exploration and the search for life in the Universe.

Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled nanocrafts. These could fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, just over 20 years after their launch.

The program will be led by Pete Worden, the former director of NASA AMES Research Center, and advised by a committee of world-class scientists and engineers. The board will consist of Stephen Hawking, Yuri Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Ann Druyan, Freeman Dyson, Mae Jemison, Avi Loeb and Pete Worden also participated in the announcement.

Today, on the 55th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space flight, and nearly half a century after the original ‘moonshot’, Breakthrough Starshot is launching preparations for the next great leap: to the stars.

Breakthrough Starshot

The Alpha Centauri star system is 25 trillion miles (4.37 light years) away. With today’s fastest spacecraft, it would take about 30,000 years to get there. Breakthrough Starshot aims to establish whether a gram-scale nanocraft, on a sail pushed by a light beam, can fly over a thousand times faster. It brings the Silicon Valley approach to space travel, capitalizing on exponential advances in certain areas of technology since the beginning of the 21st century.

1. Nanocrafts

Nanocrafts are gram-scale robotic spacecrafts comprising two main parts:

·         StarChip: Moore’s law has allowed a dramatic decrease in the size of microelectronic components. This creates the possibility of a gram-scale wafer, carrying cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and communication equipment, and constituting a fully functional space probe.

·         Lightsail: Advances in nanotechnology are producing increasingly thin and light-weight metamaterials, promising to enable the fabrication of meter-scale sails no more than a few hundred atoms thick and at gram-scale mass.

2. Light Beamer

·         The rising power and falling cost of lasers, consistent with Moore’s law, lead to significant advances in light beaming technology. Meanwhile, phased arrays of lasers (the ‘light beamer’) could potentially be scaled up to the 100 gigawatt level.

Breakthrough Starshot aims to bring economies of scale to the astronomical scale. The StarChip can be mass-produced at the cost of an iPhone and be sent on missions in large numbers to provide redundancy and coverage. The light beamer is modular and scalable. Once it is assembled and the technology matures, the cost of each launch is expected to fall to a few hundred thousand dollars.

Path to the stars

The research and engineering phase is expected to last a number of years. Following that, development of the ultimate mission to Alpha Centauri would require a budget comparable to the largest current scientific experiments, and would involve:

·         Building a ground-based kilometer-scale light beamer at high altitude in dry conditions

·         Generating and storing a few gigawatt hours of energy per launch

·         Launching a ‘mothership’ carrying thousands of nanocrafts to a high-altitude orbit

·         Taking advantage of adaptive optics technology in real time to compensate for atmospheric effects

·         Focusing the light beam on the lightsail to accelerate individual nanocrafts to the target speed within minutes

·         Accounting for interstellar dust collisions en route to the target

·         Capturing images of a planet, and other scientific data, and transmitting them back to Earth using a compact on-board laser communications system

·         Using the same light beamer that launched the nanocrafts to receive data from them over 4 years later.

These and other system requirements represent significant engineering challenges, and they can be reviewed in more detail online at www.breakthroughinitiative.org. However, the key elements of the proposed system design are based on technology either already available or likely to be attainable in the near future under reasonable assumptions.

The proposed light propulsion system is on a scale significantly exceeding any currently operational analog. The very nature of the project calls for global co-operation and support.

Clearance for launches would be required from all the appropriate government and international organizations.

Additional opportunities

As the technology required for interstellar travel matures, a number of additional opportunities will emerge, including the following:

·         Contribution to solar system exploration.

·         Using the light beamer as a kilometer-scale telescope for astronomical observations.

·         Detection of Earth-crossing asteroids at large distances.

Potential Planets in the Alpha Centauri system

Astronomers estimate that there is a reasonable chance of an Earth-like planet existing in the ‘habitable zones’ of Alpha Centauri’s three-star system. A number of scientific instruments, ground-based and space-based, are being developed and enhanced, which will soon identify and characterize planets around nearby stars.

A separate Breakthrough Initiative will support some of these projects.

Open and collaborative environment

The Breakthrough Starshot initiative is:

·         based entirely on research that is in the public domain.

·         committed to publishing new results.

·         dedicated to full transparency and open access.

·         open to experts in all relevant fields, as well as the public, to contribute ideas through its online forum.

The list of scientific references and publications, as well as the online forum, can be found at www.breakthroughinitiative.org

Research support

The Breakthrough Starshot initiative will establish a research grant program, and will make available other funding to support relevant scientific and engineering research and development.

 

“The human story is one of great leaps,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “55 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap - to the stars.”

"Earth is a wonderful place, but it might not last forever", commented Stephen Hawking, “Sooner or later, we must look to the stars. Breakthrough Starshot is a very exciting first step on that journey.”

“We take inspiration from Vostok, Voyager, Apollo and the other great missions,” said Pete Worden, “It’s time to open the era of interstellar flight, but we need to keep our feet on the ground to achieve this.”

 

**

 

Breakthrough Starshot Board

Stephen Hawking, Professor, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the University of Cambridge

Yuri Milner, Founder of DST Global

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Facebook

 

Breakthrough Starshot Management and Advisory Committee

·         Pete Worden, Executive Director, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of NASA Ames Research Center

Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center. He was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally. Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics and space sciences. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr. Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Laboratory Director of the Year’ and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.

·         Avi Loeb, Chairman, Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee; Harvard University 

Avi Loeb is a theoretical physicist who has written over 500 scientific papers and 3 books on astrophysics and cosmology, mainly on the first stars and black holes.  TIME magazine selected him as one of the 25 most influential people in space. Loeb serves as the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, where he serves as chair of the Harvard Astronomy department, director of the Institute for Theory & Computation and director of the Black Hole Initiative. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics, and a member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies.

·         Jim Benford, Microwave Sciences

Jim Benford is president of Microwave Sciences. He develops high-power microwave systems from conceptual designs to hardware. His interests include microwave source physics, electromagnetic power beaming for space propulsion, experimental intense particle beams and plasma physics.

·         Bruce Draine, Princeton University

Dr. Draine's research involves the study of the interstellar medium, especially interstellar dust, photodissociation regions, shock waves and the physical optics of nanostructures.  In 2004 he won the Dannie Heinemann Prize for Astrophysics.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

·         Ann Druyan, Cosmos Studios

Ann Druyan is an American author and producer specializing in science communication. She was the Creative Director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message and a co-writer of the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan (1934–1996), whom she married in 1981. She was an executive producer and writer of the follow-up series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, for which she won the Emmy and Peabody awards.

 

·         Freeman Dyson, Princeton Institute of Advanced Study

Freeman Dyson is an American theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. He is professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, a Visitor of Ralston College, and a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

·         Robert Fugate, Arctelum, LLC, New Mexico Tech

Dr. Fugate conducts a research program on atmospheric propagation physics, atmospheric compensation using laser guide star adaptive optics. Dr Fugate’s research program also includes the development of sensors, instrumentation and mount control of large-aperture, ground-based telescopes.

·         Lou Friedman, Planetary Society, JPL

Lou Friedman is an American astronautics engineer, space spokesperson and noted author. He was a co-founder of The Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Bruce C. Murray, and is now Executive Director Emeritus. He led Advanced Projects at JPL including development of solar sails, missions to Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, comets and asteroids, and he was the leader of the Mars Program after the Viking Mission. He is currently consulting on NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission. He co-led studies of that mission and of Exploring the Interstellar Medium at the Keck Institute for Space Studies.

·         Giancarlo Genta, Polytechnic University of Turin

Giancarlo Genta’s areas of professional interest include vibration, vehicle design, magnetic bearings, and rotordynamics. He has written or co-authored more than 50 articles in professional publications and 21 books. He has published extensively in the field of SETI research.

·         Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona

Dr. Guyon designs space and ground-based astronomical instrumentation that aid the search for exoplanets outside the solar system. He is an expert in high contrast imaging techniques (coronagraphy, extreme adaptive optics) for directly imaging and studying exoplanets.

·         Mae Jemison, 100 Year Starship

Dr. Mae C. Jemison leads 100 Year Starship, a multifaceted global initiative to realize all the capabilities required for human interstellar travel beyond our solar system to another star within the next 100 years.  Jemison was a NASA astronaut for six years and the world’s first woman of color in space. She is committed to applying space exploration advances to enhancing life on Earth, and draws upon her background as a physician, engineer, inventor, environmental studies professor, science literacy advocate, development worker in Africa, and founder of two tech start-ups.

·         Pete Klupar, Director of Engineering, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of Engineering, NASA Ames Research Center

Pete Klupar is interested in low cost, high technology efforts with an emphasis on space systems. He has developed and launched more than 50 spacecraft missions. He has spent time in industry, helping to grow a spacecraft startup from 4 employees to over 500. He has also worked in large organizations such as Boeing and Space Systems Loral. He has been involved in government space and aviation programs, most recently at NASA Ames as the director of Engineering. He has been instrumental in reducing the cost of high technology missions, developing several Faster Better Cheaper and Operationally Responsive Space efforts.

·         Geoff Landis, SA Glenn Research Center

Geoff Landis is an American scientist, working on planetary exploration, interstellar propulsion, and advanced technology for space missions. Landis holds nine patents, primarily in the field of improvements to solar cells and photovoltaic devices, and has given presentations and commentary on the possibilities for interstellar travel and construction of bases on the Moon, Mars, and Venus. He is a fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.

 

·         Kelvin Long, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society

Kelvin Long is a physicist, author and the executive director of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. He has worked in the aerospace sector for around fifteen years and he specializes in the subject of interstellar flight, with an emphasis on advanced propulsion concepts.

·         Philip Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara

Philip Lubin is Professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, with research interests in experimental cosmology, cosmic background radiation (spectrum, anisotropy and polarization), satellite, balloon-born and ground-based studies of the early universe, fundamental limits of detection, directed energy systems, and infrared and far-infrared astrophysics.

·         Zac Manchester, Harvard University

Zac Manchester is a researcher and aerospace engineer with broad interests in dynamics and control and a passion for making spaceflight more accessible. He is especially interested in taking advantage of advancements in embedded electronics and computation to build spacecraft that are smaller, smarter, and more agile. He founded the KickSat project in 2011 and has also worked on unmanned aerial vehicles and several small spacecraft missions.

·         Greg Matloff, New York City College of Technology

Greg Matloff is an emeritus professor at the NYC College of Technology. He is an expert in deep space propulsion. Matloff is a fellow of the British interplanetary Society, a Hayden Associate at the American Museum of Natural History and a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. His pioneering research in solar-sail technology has been utilized by NASA in plans for extra-solar probes as well as in consideration of technologies to divert Earth-threatening asteroids. He served as guest professor at the University of Siena, Italy.

·         Claire Max, University of California, Santa Cruz

Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and the Director of the University of California Observatories. Max is best known for her contributions to laser guide star adaptive optics as a technique for reducing the optical distortions of images taken through the turbulent atmosphere. This work began at the JASON group, which she joined in 1983 as its first female member. With her colleagues in JASON, she developed the idea of using an artificial laser guide star tuned to the yellow light emitted by sodium atoms to correct astronomical images. In addition to continuing to develop this technology at the Center for Adaptive Optics, she now uses adaptive optics on the world's largest optical telescopes to study the fate of supermassive black holes in the cores of colliding gas-rich galaxies. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and winner of the American Astronomical Society's Weber Prize in Instrumentation, Princeton University's James Madison Medal and the Department of Energy's E. O. Lawrence award.

·         Kaya Nobuyuki, Kobe University

Kaya Nobuyuki is vice dean of the graduate school of engineering at Kobe University in Japan. Noboyuki has performed numerous space and ground demonstrations. He and an international team from Japan and the European Space Agency successfully tested microwave beam control for an SPS using an ISAS sounding rocket and three daughter satellites deploying a large web: this was known as the “Furoshiki” experiment. He also played a central role in the demonstration of key solar-powered wireless transmission as part of the Orbital Power Plant.

·         Kevin Parkin, Parkin Research

Dr. Kevin Parkin is a British-born scientist who is best known for inventing the Microwave Thermal Rocket. In 2005, he was awarded the Korolev Medal by the Russian Federation of Astronautics and Cosmonautics.  In 2007, Dr. Parkin founded the Mission Design Center at NASA Ames and developed its software architecture, having previously created the ICEMaker software used for spacecraft design by Team-X at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and several other organizations.  >From 2012-2014 he was the Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer of a project that built the first millimeter-wave powered thermal rocket and launched it.

·         Mason Peck, Cornell University 

Peck's academic research focuses on technology development for low-cost space missions, particularly in the areas of propulsion, navigation, and control. He is the former NASA Chief Technologist. He has worked closely with the US Aerospace industry for over 20 years, having held engineering positions at Boeing and Honeywell, and having served as a consultant in space technology. Peck has published articles on microscale spacecraft, next-generation propulsion, low-power space robotics and spaceflight dynamics. He is the co-author of three books on planetary exploration and spacecraft mechanisms.

·         Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Prize winner, Breakthrough Prize winner, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Saul Perlmutter is an American astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Perlmutter shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess, for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

·         Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

Lord Martin Rees is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 2004 to 2012 and President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010. Aside from expanding his scientific interests, Rees has written and spoken extensively about the problems and challenges of the 21st century, and the interfaces between science, ethics and politics. He is a member of the Board of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, the IPPR, the Oxford Martin School and the Gates Cambridge Trust. He co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Future of Life Institute. Lord Rees has worked on gamma-ray bursts and on how the "cosmic dark ages" ended when the first stars formed. Lord Rees is an author of books on astronomy and science intended for the public, and gives many public lectures and broadcasts.

·         Roald Sagdeev, University of Maryland

Roald Sagdeev is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. in 1966 from Moscow State University. He previously served for 15 years as Director of the Space Research Institute, the Moscow-based center of the Russian space exploration program, where he currently holds the title of Director Emeritus. Prior to his work with the Soviet space exploration program, he had a distinguished career in nuclear science, gaining international recognition for his work on the behavior of hot plasma and controlled thermonuclear fusion. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy, the Max Planck Society and the International Academy of Aeronautics.

·         Ed Turner, Princeton University, NAOJ

Ed Turner is Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University. Turner has worked extensively in both theoretical and observational astrophysics, and has published more than 200 research papers on topics including binary galaxies, groups of galaxies, large-scale structure, dark matter, quasar populations, gravitational lensing, the cosmic x-ray background, the cosmological constant, exoplanets and astrobiology – frequently, in all of these areas, with an emphasis on statistical analyses. His recent teaching activities at Princeton include courses in cosmology, in astrobiology and in media coverage of science, and he has been a member of the University’s Committee for Statistical Studies since 1992. 

 

###

Additional information www.breakthroughinitiatives.org.

Link:  www.image.net/breakthroughstarshot

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #11 on: 04/12/2016 04:30 PM »
Wait a minute!  Wasn't Hawking the one 'fear mongering' about drawing the attention of aliens in recent years?

Now he wants to start shooting lasers at nearby stars pushing micro-sats...

I can't see how firing powerful lasers at other star systems would anger aliens in any way....

As Jeff Foust points out the cost of this is going to be enormous.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/719919439081136128
« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 04:59 PM by Star One »

Online Jarnis

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #12 on: 04/12/2016 04:31 PM »
I'm trying to find ways to say "noooope" but I must say the only argument I can think of is the funding, and I guess if Mark Zuckenberg is on the board, he might be able to chip in a bit for example. As far as the initial project ($100M proof of concept), that seems feasible.

Okay, there are some engineering bits and bobs that seem bit.. umm... challenging (how to get such a tiny craft to transmit something over multiple lightyears and actually receive that here comes to mind first), but beyond that, an interesting idea.


« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 04:32 PM by Jarnis »

Offline R7

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #13 on: 04/12/2016 04:38 PM »
100GW for two minutes. That's some laser array!
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Nomadd

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #14 on: 04/12/2016 04:52 PM »
 A 1 gram spacecraft communicating over 4 light years? Just a detail to be worked out.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #15 on: 04/12/2016 04:55 PM »
A 1 gram spacecraft communicating over 4 light years? Just a detail to be worked out.
I think that is going to be a bit of a challenge to say the least.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #16 on: 04/12/2016 04:57 PM »
Quote
Focusing the light beam on the lightsail to accelerate individual nanocrafts to the target speed within minutes
Those little probes are going to get a pretty swift kick. Even if it take a half hour to get up to speed they will be accelerating at almost 25km/s2.

Online Jarnis

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #17 on: 04/12/2016 04:59 PM »
A 1 gram spacecraft communicating over 4 light years? Just a detail to be worked out.

I'm not saying "impossible" but I'd say the difficulty setting of this little engineering project is set to 11.

But if someone is paying the bill, I'm sure such a project might still be useful for advancing the state of the art in relevant fields.


Offline whitelancer64

Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #18 on: 04/12/2016 05:02 PM »
A 1 gram spacecraft communicating over 4 light years? Just a detail to be worked out.
I think that is going to be a bit of a challenge to say the least.
Oh, just expand the Square Kilometer Array by a few kilometers... no big deal...
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Offline wxmeddler

Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #19 on: 04/12/2016 05:02 PM »
Even if say, they get past all the technical hurdles, like building the laser and the spacecraft. If you're laser accelerator pointing is off by 1*10-50 degrees you'll be trillions of miles off course. Plus, how the heck are you going to communicate with it, you'd need a dish that's enormous, not to mention the 4 year time lag. The camera will only have on the order of minutes to snap a picture before flying past.
« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 05:03 PM by wxmeddler »

Offline R7

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #20 on: 04/12/2016 05:03 PM »
Q&A just touched the long distance communication. Apparently the plan is to use small laser on the SC pointing back to Earth for a few kilobits/s rate.
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Offline kch

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #21 on: 04/12/2016 05:16 PM »
Quote
Focusing the light beam on the lightsail to accelerate individual nanocrafts to the target speed within minutes
Those little probes are going to get a pretty swift kick. Even if it take a half hour to get up to speed they will be accelerating at almost 25km/s2.

... and a lot quicker than that at the 2 minutes they actually stated:

100GW for two minutes. That's some laser array!

:)

Offline R7

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #22 on: 04/12/2016 05:29 PM »
They mentioned 60000g acceleration (probably peak initial).
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Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #23 on: 04/12/2016 05:38 PM »
The reason there is a duplicate thread is because this topic only just seems appropriate for this forum & it was agreed to put it in the advanced concepts section.

Offline Bubbinski

Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #24 on: 04/12/2016 05:51 PM »
Wow, if this actually flies....could they test a prototype by doing a flyby of Planet 9 (if it is really out there and located)? 

If Hawking, Milner, et al actually pull this off April 12 will forever be remembered and not just as "Yuri's Night" or the STS-1 launch
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #25 on: 04/12/2016 05:54 PM »
Wow, if this actually flies....could they test a prototype by doing a flyby of Planet 9 (if it is really out there and located)? 

If Hawking, Milner, et al actually pull this off April 12 will forever be remembered and not just as "Yuri's Night" or the STS-1 launch

I like your thinking about a test to planet nine.

Offline wxmeddler

Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #26 on: 04/12/2016 06:37 PM »
Depending on where they put the laser, wouldn't they only be able to send probes to that hemisphere only? Seems like you would need two systems, one for the northern sky and one for the southern sky.

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #27 on: 04/12/2016 06:55 PM »
Unfortunately I doubt I will be around to see the results with twenty plus years to develop the technology and then the travel time to get there.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #28 on: 04/12/2016 08:40 PM »
If I read the press release correctly, you could use the big laser and an electronically opacable lightsail for comms. If you can paint with a powerful enough laser the sail, and if you can switch the albedo electronically, you can get information back with a big telescope. This enables you to just need the big stuff on the Earth.

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Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #29 on: 04/12/2016 08:48 PM »
The idea to test this with a flyby of Planet 9 (if it turns out to exist) is brilliant.  That could actually work.

For the rest of it, I wouldn't put the idea down, I would think of it as like the BIS 'Project Daedalus' interstellar probe: a very interesting idea, one which may spur further ideas and some technological advances (actually, it could be a lot better at that than Project Daedalus), but probably not going to get anywhere, at least in this form.   So, let the ideas flow, see what comes out of it, but don't hold your breath until launch.

Offline redliox

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #30 on: 04/12/2016 09:06 PM »
Hopefully something comes of this.  I've been skeptical about light sails, but they've been flown twice thanks to JAXA and the Planetary Society with both accomplishing what they set out to do, and it would be probably more feasible to build Starshot's laser system on the ground versus trying to cobble together a hefty ion propulsion system.  Considering how compact ordinary phone cameras have already gotten, it might be possible that a similar-sized device in 10 to 20 years could hold a decent mix of optics for ultraviolet to near-infrared imaging.  Obviously it won't be a Hubble, but perhaps useful enough if Starshot could somehow get close enough.

Aside from building the thing, we really need to find the targets Starshot would investigate.  Waiting to hear if the Pale Red Dot project learns anything about Proxima Centauri, otherwise I know there's supposed to be a handful of projects that have been watching Alpha for years now.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #31 on: 04/12/2016 09:12 PM »
So, let the ideas flow, see what comes out of it, but don't hold your breath until launch.
Yeah, i thought about holding my breath when Google Lunar X-Prize was announced.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #32 on: 04/12/2016 09:27 PM »
On the face of it this looks a bit more achievable than some past schemes I've seen for this kind of thing, keeping the initial power source on the ground instantly makes more sense than the exotic suggestions of others.
« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 09:28 PM by Star One »

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #33 on: 04/12/2016 09:27 PM »
Even if say, they get past all the technical hurdles, like building the laser and the spacecraft. If you're laser accelerator pointing is off by 1*10-50 degrees you'll be trillions of miles off course. Plus, how the heck are you going to communicate with it, you'd need a dish that's enormous, not to mention the 4 year time lag. The camera will only have on the order of minutes to snap a picture before flying past.

I wonder if there would be any possibility of active steering by angling the sail slightly? I know that this is considered for conventional lightsails.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #34 on: 04/12/2016 09:29 PM »
Even if say, they get past all the technical hurdles, like building the laser and the spacecraft. If you're laser accelerator pointing is off by 1*10-50 degrees you'll be trillions of miles off course. Plus, how the heck are you going to communicate with it, you'd need a dish that's enormous, not to mention the 4 year time lag. The camera will only have on the order of minutes to snap a picture before flying past.

I wonder if there would be any possibility of active steering by angling the sail slightly? I know that this is considered for conventional lightsails.
What at 20% the speed of light, seems unlikely.

Exclusive interview with Milner.

http://www.popsci.com/yuri-milner-wants-to-blast-thousands-little-spaceships-to-alpha-centauri?src=SOC&dom=tw
« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 09:51 PM by Star One »

Offline Remes

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #35 on: 04/12/2016 10:37 PM »
They could improve their system by not using satellite dishes for firing lasers.  :D

Rather then making a square sail it might be some conductively coated pieces which form a directional antenna for communication. Or some layers of si-atoms, forming a solar cell.

Cool challenging project. That's what engineers and the space community need.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #36 on: 04/12/2016 10:50 PM »
I wonder how lasers of this power hitting a small target won't vaporize it.  If it doesn't reflect 99.999999999% of the light there will be an insane amount of energy absorbed into this tiny spacecraft.  I don't know of any material that can reflect that high a percent of the light hitting it.

Offline 1

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #37 on: 04/12/2016 10:53 PM »
I wonder how lasers of this power hitting a small target won't vaporize it.  If it doesn't reflect 99.999999999% of the light there will be an insane amount of energy absorbed into this tiny spacecraft.  I don't know of any material that can reflect that high a percent of the light hitting it.

On the plus side, now we have a really easy way of dealing with any space junk in orbit, and we could death-star the hell out of any incoming asteroids on a collision course with Earth, so I say build it!

Offline robertross

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #38 on: 04/12/2016 10:57 PM »
FYI: I believe the website has been hacked, so be careful:

www.breakthroughinitiative.org.

« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 10:57 PM by robertross »
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Offline Oberon_Command

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #39 on: 04/12/2016 10:59 PM »
I wonder how lasers of this power hitting a small target won't vaporize it.  If it doesn't reflect 99.999999999% of the light there will be an insane amount of energy absorbed into this tiny spacecraft.  I don't know of any material that can reflect that high a percent of the light hitting it.

Could they make the sail out of some kind of reflective ablative?
« Last Edit: 04/12/2016 10:59 PM by Oberon_Command »

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #40 on: 04/12/2016 11:02 PM »
I wonder how lasers of this power hitting a small target won't vaporize it.  If it doesn't reflect 99.999999999% of the light there will be an insane amount of energy absorbed into this tiny spacecraft.  I don't know of any material that can reflect that high a percent of the light hitting it.

Could they make the sail out of some kind of reflective ablative?
I'm not an expert, but I think that would add significant mass drastically reducing the acceleration possible.

Offline Remes

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #41 on: 04/13/2016 12:00 AM »
I wonder how lasers of this power hitting a small target won't vaporize it.  If it doesn't reflect 99.999999999% of the light there will be an insane amount of energy absorbed into this tiny spacecraft.  I don't know of any material that can reflect that high a percent of the light hitting it.
Not all of the electric energy is converted to light. Some of the light will be scattered in the atmosphere. Even the best lasers diverge and therefore only a small amount of the light hits the target. The sail might be quite huge.

100E9W electric power.
30E9W light power
1E9W scattering, divergence, ...
1E7W 1% is absorbed
10W per square meter, if the sail is 1km˛ big.

Albeit 10W is quite something on a very thin foil. But the divergence losses are in my guess rather optimistic.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 12:12 AM by Remes »

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #42 on: 04/13/2016 12:19 AM »
And yes, you might be able to accelerate a gram-mass probe with this energy source.  But, um... how much does a many-square-kilometer light sail mass?  You gotta include the mass of the sail...
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #43 on: 04/13/2016 01:18 AM »
Well, it will be useful when the Kzinti show up.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #44 on: 04/13/2016 01:26 AM »
A few links to the archived video of the press conference:

http://livestream.com/breakthroughprize/starshot



« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 11:28 PM by yg1968 »

Offline gospacex

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #45 on: 04/13/2016 01:34 AM »
By what magic the probe is not instantly vaporized by multi-gigawatt laser beams?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #46 on: 04/13/2016 02:03 AM »
By what magic the probe is not instantly vaporized by multi-gigawatt laser beams?
Dielectric mirrors can achieve ridiculously high reflectivity. And for the part that is absorbed, you have a very, very large area to radiate heat from.

But there's another problem: The laser array they showed wouldn't work due to the "thinned array curse."

They'd be wasting 95% of the laser power due to the thinned array curse. Either that, or they're assuming a small aperture. Small aperture makes everything harder since it means you need to accelerate much faster, thus requires a much more powerful laser.

I still think an orbital laser, or a bunch of them, would be better. Perhaps a very large inflatable mirror with an active-optics secondary mirror to adjust for imperfections in the inflatable mirror. (MMOD of the inflatable mirror would be a smaller problem than normal, since you'd be accelerating for on the order of minutes and could afford to keep it inflated with an external gas supply in case of holes.)
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #47 on: 04/13/2016 02:12 AM »
I still think an orbital laser, or a bunch of them, would be better. Perhaps a very large inflatable mirror with an active-optics secondary mirror to adjust for imperfections in the inflatable mirror.
We all know that wouldn't be permitted, since Diamonds are Forever came out.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #48 on: 04/13/2016 06:36 AM »
They mentioned 60000g acceleration (probably peak initial).

According to Wikipedia, the electronics in artillery shells is rated to survive under acceleration of 15,500 g, and presumably the electronics are there to steer the shell, so the sensors and actuators have to be able to survive that acceleration too.  So, it's conceivable that something can survive this order-of-magnitude of acceleration and still sense and interact with the outside world.  Obviously, though, the artillery shell only has to endure that acceleration for orders of magnitude less time, since its final speed is orders of magnitude less than .2c.

Offline R7

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #49 on: 04/13/2016 07:12 AM »
^The artillery shells have slightly different problem; how to contain microchips without braking them inside a macroscopic object doing 5-digit acceleration plus shock vibrations. In this concept the chip itself is the "ammunition". Its microscopic nature should make it more robust.

Having said that I have problems imagining a thin sheet a few meters wide (they mentioned four meters in the pressconf) weighing just one gram remaining steady and flat while inside laser beam pushing it 60000g. Wouldn't even minor misalingment or a wrinkle in the sail cause instant folding, warping, tumbling and whatnot of destructive kind? I guess one could spin stabilize the sail before launch but is it enough? Also the beam would have to be very uniform over the sail in order not to flip it.

Did some BOTE calc for the fun. Assuming 4m diameter disc weighing one gram the required beam intensity to accelerate the craft at 60000g is 7GW/m2. Further assuming 99,9999% reflectivity on the mirror side the craft absorbs 7kW/m2. If the other side is perfect black body it can reradiate the heat at required rate if the craft can survive about 600K. Not horribly hot, but is hextuple-9 reflectivity within realm of possible idk.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 07:39 AM by R7 »
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Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #50 on: 04/13/2016 07:47 AM »
Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c? What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar? Does it have its own propulsion? How is it supposed to navigate?

IMO this is one of those "Moore's law will fix everything" concepts.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 07:47 AM by Oli »

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #51 on: 04/13/2016 08:13 AM »
1. Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c?
2. What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar?
3. Does it have its own propulsion?
4. How is it supposed to navigate?

1. Cool huh?
2. Then the probe ends up in slightly different place than planned. The plan is to shoot out large number of them. Perhaps spread the flotilla a bit like a shotgun pattern to increase odds that at least some ends up in the right place.
3. Photon thrusters are mentioned, but given the miniature attainable power levels they are probably for orienting only.
4. Poorly? I guess it could trim its trajectory a bit acting as a solar sail.
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Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #52 on: 04/13/2016 09:01 AM »
1. Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c?
2. What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar?
3. Does it have its own propulsion?
4. How is it supposed to navigate?

1. Cool huh?
2. Then the probe ends up in slightly different place than planned. The plan is to shoot out large number of them. Perhaps spread the flotilla a bit like a shotgun pattern to increase odds that at least some ends up in the right place.
3. Photon thrusters are mentioned, but given the miniature attainable power levels they are probably for orienting only.
4. Poorly? I guess it could trim its trajectory a bit acting as a solar sail.

2. A slightly different place? This is space we're talking about. You won't fit anything but primitive optics on a 1g probe, so you must get close.
4. With navigation I mean knowing its location and trajectory in space with sufficient accuracy.

Offline Star One

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Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #53 on: 04/13/2016 01:41 PM »
Further article with an explanation from Milner as to why he proposes the lasers be on the ground & not in space.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=35402
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 01:49 PM by Star One »

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #54 on: 04/13/2016 02:17 PM »
Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c? What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar? Does it have its own propulsion? How is it supposed to navigate?

IMO this is one of those "Moore's law will fix everything" concepts.
I think from reading into previous proposals similar to this one that it is a numbers game. Each individual probe has a small chance of ending up on target. However because these things are so small they are inexpensive to build and get into space. A good percentage of them could end up off target but enough would be on target to make it worthwhile. This also appears to be how they will deal with interstellar dust impacts at 0.2C. Many will be destroyed in relativistic collisions but some will make it through. Just build and launch enough of them and some will make it there.

Offline Burninate

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #55 on: 04/13/2016 02:20 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starwisp

I don't understand how the numbers given could possibly be feasible, even if starwisps are probably the fastest way to return data from nearby stars.

Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #56 on: 04/13/2016 04:48 PM »
I think concepts for better telescopes are more promising. For example NASA's "glitter telescope".

http://www.space.com/29677-floating-cloud-space-telescope-glitter-tech.html
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 04:50 PM by Oli »

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #57 on: 04/13/2016 07:26 PM »
Ancestors
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@plutokiller My daughter thinks you could test the star shot tiny satellites on getting images of Planet9. Ok? (I ❤️ having a science kid!)
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Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #58 on: 04/13/2016 07:40 PM »
After reading through the entire thread. All I can think of is the Motie "Crazy Eddie Probe" from the CoDominion Universe from Larry Nivens & Jerry Pournelle.

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #59 on: 04/13/2016 09:08 PM »
it instantly reminded me of the star probe to the brown dwarf in Charles Stross's Accelerando, using a laser bank in the asteroid belt, with the starwhisp being made of computronium.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #60 on: 04/13/2016 09:24 PM »
Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c? What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar? Does it have its own propulsion? How is it supposed to navigate?

IMO this is one of those "Moore's law will fix everything" concepts.
If a spacecraft is 4 meters wide and flies 4 light years, how much dust on average is in a column 4 meters by 4 meters by 4 light years?  I can imagine even a gram of dust in that column will pulverize a spacecraft flying at 0.2c.

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #61 on: 04/13/2016 09:26 PM »
Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c? What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar? Does it have its own propulsion? How is it supposed to navigate?

IMO this is one of those "Moore's law will fix everything" concepts.
If a spacecraft is 4 meters wide and flies 4 light years, how much dust on average is in a column 4 meters by 4 meters by 4 light years?  I can imagine even a gram of dust in that column will pulverize a spacecraft flying at 0.2c.

I'd be less worried about dust in interstellar space and more about dust in the target system (and our own, for that matter)

Offline Lar

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #62 on: 04/14/2016 12:09 AM »
let's stay serious... (burning dollar bills for fuel isn't very serious, is it?)
« Last Edit: 04/14/2016 12:33 AM by Lar »
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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #63 on: 04/14/2016 12:15 AM »
Instead of providing propulsion for a micro craft, wouldn't the laser array be a death ray weapon if the energy was reflected off a heavy mirror in orbit around the earth?  If there is a military application then funding the laser array shouldn't be a problem.  I really do like the concept and never thought we would be seriously talking about an interstellar probe or probes in our life times.

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #64 on: 04/14/2016 01:15 AM »
The in stellar mission maybe a long shot and decades away but there are lot of near term missions that would benefit from this technology.

 Smaller laser arrays  (megawatts) should be able to send cubesats to most of solar system. As the laser array grows larger planetary craft can be used.

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #65 on: 04/14/2016 01:20 AM »
I think there are a lot of extremely difficult engineering challenges facing the announced concept, and people like us here out on internet fora will no doubt pick it apart.  But I am very, very much in favor of raising money to be spent on solving these problems, and in some instances finding there are better or more feasible means of accomplishing some or all of the mission.

Just getting people thinking about it, and money spent on looking at the engineering challenges, is worthwhile and exciting.
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Offline sanman

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #66 on: 04/14/2016 02:30 AM »
Regarding the probe's ability to transmit back to Earth - is it possible that the sail could also act as a radio antenna? The same sail that is catching the laser beam to push it ahead would also be able to use some of that caught laser energy to power any transmissions.

Would the dimensions of the sail be large enough to make that feasible?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #67 on: 04/14/2016 02:40 AM »
Regarding the probe's ability to transmit back to Earth - is it possible that the sail could also act as a radio antenna? The same sail that is catching the laser beam to push it ahead would also be able to use some of that caught laser energy to power any transmissions.

Would the dimensions of the sail be large enough to make that feasible?

I wouldn't think it would be feasible.  Remember, it gets accelerated up to speed while it's close to Earth, and the portion of energy it reflects will be the same 4 light years away, but the amount of energy hitting it will be orders of magnitude lower.  If it could harvest energy from the sail when 4 light years away, it would burn up when close to Earth.

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #68 on: 04/14/2016 04:14 AM »
Did some BOTE calc for the fun. Assuming 4m diameter disc weighing one gram the required beam intensity to accelerate the craft at 60000g is 7GW/m2. Further assuming 99,9999% reflectivity on the mirror side the craft absorbs 7kW/m2. If the other side is perfect black body it can reradiate the heat at required rate if the craft can survive about 600K. Not horribly hot, but is hextuple-9 reflectivity within realm of possible idk.
A search shows 'optical supermirrors' which are dielectric mirrors which can do six 9s but at limited wavelengths (e.g https://goo.gl/Xjff60). One issue - as the mirror accelerates to .2c, a blue laser at 450nm will end up shifted to green at 550nm (z = 0.225). Either the lasers would have to be tuned as it accelerated or they could stack multiple layers with the shorter wavelengths getting vaporized as the mirror accelerates.

Offline vapour_nudge

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #69 on: 04/14/2016 08:24 AM »
let's stay serious... (burning dollar bills for fuel isn't very serious, is it?)
Sorry Lar.  It was silly.
It concerns me when $100m is spent on such things. If it is about technology spin offs then yes that would be a good reason to use this seed money else IMHO it's burning money that could be used for other more worthy causes. The fact they wheel out well known people also worries me.

I'd like to hear how they are proposing to target the communications back to Earth, who'd be listening and how faint that signal would be and the spread of the beam. Pioneer 10 went silent using RF and its transmission power levels were far higher than what they would be for this project. It also had trouble locking on to a signal & having bore sight focussed at Earth. That was far closer. However you could argue that money spent on investigating distant Comms like this would be worth the money for other missions too
« Last Edit: 04/14/2016 10:57 AM by vapour_nudge »

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #70 on: 04/14/2016 10:04 AM »
Just a couple of thoughts. Remember that I'm an enthusiastic amateur so I don't know how practical this is:

1) The light sail would work just as well with sunlight (although with reduced thrust); so the laser burns, a hour or so per Earth day, IIRC, would be boost periods rather than the only propulsive system;

2) The light sail would also serve as a brake as the vehicles approach the A-Centauri system. The two larger stars in the system equal to around 2x Sol so that would be a lot of braking power over such a long-duration mission;

3) A good starting point would be the EML-1 halo, as this would reduce the amount of energy required for Earth escape; however, I'm wondering if this would be more than offset by the loss of thrust from being further from the boost laser array;

4) Finally, could these probes be tasked with a flyby of the hypothetical Sol-IX? A long distance but in-system target might make for a good technology test of things like the sail steering, sensors, control system and communications laser.
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Offline R7

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #71 on: 04/14/2016 10:44 AM »
1. Instead of providing propulsion for a micro craft, wouldn't the laser array be a death ray weapon if the energy was reflected off a heavy mirror in orbit around the earth?
2.  If there is a military application then funding the laser array shouldn't be a problem.

1. Most certainly, SDI Star Wars redux. Btw most of the "death ray" would get reflected anyway, from the SC. Wondering what the plan is to make sure launch won't lase people and property on the ground. Shoot the SC at such inclination that the reflection misses Earth?

2. The unavoidable military application may very well be a big geopolitical problem. White House occupant would have tough negotiations with Russia and China.
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Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #72 on: 04/14/2016 10:52 AM »
Making a planetary flyby in another star system at 0.2c? What if the 1g probe's course is slightly altered by interstellar dust or similar? Does it have its own propulsion? How is it supposed to navigate?

IMO this is one of those "Moore's law will fix everything" concepts.
If a spacecraft is 4 meters wide and flies 4 light years, how much dust on average is in a column 4 meters by 4 meters by 4 light years?  I can imagine even a gram of dust in that column will pulverize a spacecraft flying at 0.2c.

The dust is only another issue. I was reading about how New Horizons targeted Pluto. It's not exactly trivial. I don't see how a 1g probe could do that for an exoplanet in another star system at 0.2c. Anyway, only one of many issues.


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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #73 on: 04/14/2016 11:09 AM »
If a spacecraft is 4 meters wide and flies 4 light years, how much dust on average is in a column 4 meters by 4 meters by 4 light years?  I can imagine even a gram of dust in that column will pulverize a spacecraft flying at 0.2c.

Does it have to fly head-on like that the whole trip? It would be almost 2D object, turn it to fly sideways after launch.
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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #74 on: 04/14/2016 11:40 AM »
Some of the challenges and possible solutions are listed here: http://www.breakthroughinitiatives.org/Challenges/3

I think it would be helpful if everyone read them first since they covered most of the things discussed above.

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #75 on: 04/14/2016 11:42 AM »
When I expressed skepticism for this project and it's technological feasibility on a Space.com announcement feed on Facebook - jeez; you should have seen the feral responses and attacks I got! I was called all sorts of names, most of which have been deleted now. The mildest response I received was folk wondering how the great Professor Hawking could be so wrong and me - the wise and all-knowing 'Matthew Black' could be so right?! I responded "It's not about that; this kind of project and conceptual kite flight is part of how Prof. Hawking makes a living these days".

I conceded that the whole concept is vaguely plausible, but that there would be considerable technical, financial and scheduling challenges to overcome. Not unlike 'Mars One' in that regard!!
« Last Edit: 04/14/2016 11:43 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #76 on: 04/14/2016 12:11 PM »
Leik Myrabo knows a lot about using ground based lasers for launch systems, especially the launch laser market.

If the launch and trajectory correction phases per vehicle are quite short, and the vehicles quite cheap the logical approach is a) Multiple launches to a star b)Multiple stars

TBH the number of options for a star ship with minimal development of existing technology are quite limited.

The fission fragments of a fission fragment rocket are expected to exhaust at 0.03-0.05c but that would be a lot heavier.

If people want a shot at seeing another solar system up close in their lifetime this is pretty much it.  :(
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Offline Star One

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Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #77 on: 04/14/2016 01:22 PM »
When I expressed skepticism for this project and it's technological feasibility on a Space.com announcement feed on Facebook - jeez; you should have seen the feral responses and attacks I got! I was called all sorts of names, most of which have been deleted now. The mildest response I received was folk wondering how the great Professor Hawking could be so wrong and me - the wise and all-knowing 'Matthew Black' could be so right?! I responded "It's not about that; this kind of project and conceptual kite flight is part of how Prof. Hawking makes a living these days".

I conceded that the whole concept is vaguely plausible, but that there would be considerable technical, financial and scheduling challenges to overcome. Not unlike 'Mars One' in that regard!!

This is nothing like Mars One. At the moment it's one rich individual deciding to spend his money on a variety of research projects. TBH how he chooses to spend his personal wealth isn't anyone else's business, he's not taking the money out of your or mine's pockets. No doubt plenty of billionaires spend such money on art or property without the associated online debate about how they chose to spend their wealth.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2016 01:24 PM by Star One »

Offline MarkZero

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #78 on: 04/14/2016 01:23 PM »
On the problem of getting a signal from the small probe over the light years:

Since they are planning to make lots of those probes anyways, couldn't they just send them one by one, making a trail of them from here to Centauri. That way each probe would only need to be able to get the signal to the one behind it. Enough of the probes and the distance between two of them would become short enough.

Plus, you would get more observations from the multiple flybys that would follow, for as long as you would keep sending the probes so that the distance between the Earth and the last probe sent wouldn't become too long.


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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #79 on: 04/14/2016 02:14 PM »
Dielectric mirrors can definitely exceed five nines reflectivity. So 99.9999% isn't absurd. Maybe improve reflectivity a bit to reduce the temperature.

EDIT: Yes, better than 99.9999% reflectivity has been done for dielectric mirrors: https://www.rp-photonics.com/supermirrors.html
« Last Edit: 04/14/2016 02:22 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online MikeAtkinson

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #80 on: 04/14/2016 02:23 PM »
On the problem of getting a signal from the small probe over the light years:

Since they are planning to make lots of those probes anyways, couldn't they just send them one by one, making a trail of them from here to Centauri. That way each probe would only need to be able to get the signal to the one behind it. Enough of the probes and the distance between two of them would become short enough.

Plus, you would get more observations from the multiple flybys that would follow, for as long as you would keep sending the probes so that the distance between the Earth and the last probe sent wouldn't become too long.


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already answered at this page
« Last Edit: 04/14/2016 02:24 PM by MikeAtkinson »

Offline baldusi

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #81 on: 04/14/2016 03:20 PM »
On the problem of getting a signal from the small probe over the light years:

Since they are planning to make lots of those probes anyways, couldn't they just send them one by one, making a trail of them from here to Centauri. That way each probe would only need to be able to get the signal to the one behind it. Enough of the probes and the distance between two of them would become short enough.

Plus, you would get more observations from the multiple flybys that would follow, for as long as you would keep sending the probes so that the distance between the Earth and the last probe sent wouldn't become too long.


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I don't know why they haven't been talking about it, but I read a paper where they used mirrors with an LCD on top on cubesats. They would paint them with a laser, and by switching the LCD (which opaqued the mirror) they would transmit information back. The nice thing is that you only need enough energy to opaque the mirror. At the same time, it would help them gain some altitude back to fight the aero drag.
If they could have a sail material that could get electrically opaque, you could paint them from the Earth, and then read back the modulated reflection back on Earth with a big telescope.
The nice thing is that it would be a lot easier and cheaper to boost the power of an Earth bound laser than to accelerate on to 0.2c. I'm pretty sure that if they can accelerate the craft to 0.2c, then will be supplying a lot more than 1Watt at Alpha Centauri.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #82 on: 04/14/2016 05:49 PM »
I, for one, would like to know own the effect of these lasers on our ozone layer, and on objects in orbit.
It would Ionize it... So most likely help with Ozone production (Especially if they use a UV LASER) and vaporize the debris (helping the orbital debris problem).

So win, win ;)
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Offline Remes

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #83 on: 04/14/2016 06:45 PM »
I just realize how lucky we are, that there was no internet, when Apollo was kicked of.
That would have been a s-storm.

Some of the challenges and possible solutions are listed here: http://www.breakthroughinitiatives.org/Challenges/3

I think it would be helpful if everyone read them first since they covered most of the things discussed above.
Fully agree. These people have put many thoughts into the project. This is far away from being a thoughtless attention-seeking nonsense from some amateurs.

The major design solution seems to be to put everything on a silicon die: computer, camera, thruster, a small RTG, ultracapacitors, use of photonics,...

In regards of waste of money:
The link above contains dozens of links to research papers. Research is done already on every problem which is currently encountered. Money is already spend on all of this topics. Not because they were waiting for starshot, but just because it was in the different areas the next thing to research (long distance communications e.g., that was already done with Laser based space communications. Albeit it was only moon/earth: they would get data out of single photons.). That is how science works: we not necessarily set a specific goal (a product, something usable), but simply research things farther and farther and see, whether something better or completely new comes out of experiments, thoughts, theories and models, etc.

The great thing about this project: It sets a higher goal. It will motivate researchers and focus their forces. It provides more meaning to many research areas.

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #84 on: 04/15/2016 01:02 AM »
When I expressed skepticism for this project and it's technological feasibility on a Space.com announcement feed on Facebook - jeez; you should have seen the feral responses and attacks I got! I was called all sorts of names, most of which have been deleted now. The mildest response I received was folk wondering how the great Professor Hawking could be so wrong and me - the wise and all-knowing 'Matthew Black' could be so right?! I responded "It's not about that; this kind of project and conceptual kite flight is part of how Prof. Hawking makes a living these days".

I conceded that the whole concept is vaguely plausible, but that there would be considerable technical, financial and scheduling challenges to overcome. Not unlike 'Mars One' in that regard!!

This is nothing like Mars One. At the moment it's one rich individual deciding to spend his money on a variety of research projects. TBH how he chooses to spend his personal wealth isn't anyone else's business, he's not taking the money out of your or mine's pockets. No doubt plenty of billionaires spend such money on art or property without the associated online debate about how they chose to spend their wealth.

Of course it's Mr Milner's and others money and free will - I NEVER implied otherwise?!
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #85 on: 04/15/2016 01:25 AM »
At the moment it's one rich individual deciding to spend his money on a variety of research projects. TBH how he chooses to spend his personal wealth isn't anyone else's business, he's not taking the money out of your or mine's pockets. No doubt plenty of billionaires spend such money on art or property without the associated online debate about how they chose to spend their wealth.

It's the UK, you can be sure he'll be getting government money eventually (or quit).

Even setting that aside, just because someone is spending their own money doesn't mean we should feel free to let him know he's being foolish.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #86 on: 04/15/2016 06:19 AM »
At the moment it's one rich individual deciding to spend his money on a variety of research projects. TBH how he chooses to spend his personal wealth isn't anyone else's business, he's not taking the money out of your or mine's pockets. No doubt plenty of billionaires spend such money on art or property without the associated online debate about how they chose to spend their wealth.

It's the UK, you can be sure he'll be getting government money eventually (or quit).

Even setting that aside, just because someone is spending their own money doesn't mean we should feel free to let him know he's being foolish.

Again that just looks like you know better how he should spend his money than the man himself. The guy's hardly some rube when it comes to science and technology.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2016 06:26 AM by Star One »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #87 on: 04/15/2016 07:15 AM »
On the problem of getting a signal from the small probe over the light years:

Since they are planning to make lots of those probes anyways, couldn't they just send them one by one, making a trail of them from here to Centauri. That way each probe would only need to be able to get the signal to the one behind it. Enough of the probes and the distance between two of them would become short enough.

Plus, you would get more observations from the multiple flybys that would follow, for as long as you would keep sending the probes so that the distance between the Earth and the last probe sent wouldn't become too long.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I don't know why they haven't been talking about it, but I read a paper where they used mirrors with an LCD on top on cubesats. They would paint them with a laser, and by switching the LCD (which opaqued the mirror) they would transmit information back. The nice thing is that you only need enough energy to opaque the mirror. At the same time, it would help them gain some altitude back to fight the aero drag.
If they could have a sail material that could get electrically opaque, you could paint them from the Earth, and then read back the modulated reflection back on Earth with a big telescope.
The nice thing is that it would be a lot easier and cheaper to boost the power of an Earth bound laser than to accelerate on to 0.2c. I'm pretty sure that if they can accelerate the craft to 0.2c, then will be supplying a lot more than 1Watt at Alpha Centauri.

If we could paint a spot the size of the 1 gram craft with a laser from Earth and read back whether it's reflecting or not, we wouldn't need the craft at all -- we could directly image all the planets in the system from Earth in far more detail than the tiny camera on such a craft.

In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.


Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #88 on: 04/15/2016 07:25 AM »
Again that just looks like you know better how he should spend his money than the man himself. The guy's hardly some rube when it comes to science and technology.

I for one think it's a clever use of his money.  If he succeeds, he's hailed as visionary genius and goes down in history.  If he fails, he still ends up with a very cool death ray to use for whatever billionaires use death rays for.  Win-win.

Offline vapour_nudge

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #89 on: 04/15/2016 08:39 AM »
Yes. He appears to be very clever with his money. After all, didn't he just pledge $100m for SETI as well?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #90 on: 04/15/2016 08:53 AM »
It's the UK, you can be sure he'll be getting government money eventually (or quit).

Even setting that aside, just because someone is spending their own money doesn't mean we should feel free to let him know he's being foolish.
The UK? Would you like to check your geography?

He's Russian.
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #91 on: 04/15/2016 09:49 AM »
Try to keep up.
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Offline manboy

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #92 on: 04/15/2016 10:07 AM »
Looks interesting. Somewhat skeptical, still looks leagues more credible than Mars One.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #93 on: 04/15/2016 10:54 AM »
Looks interesting. Somewhat skeptical, still looks leagues more credible than Mars One.

Precisely. No hyped promises.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #94 on: 04/15/2016 02:03 PM »
Yes. He appears to be very clever with his money. After all, didn't he just pledge $100m for SETI as well?

It's part of the same initiative: it's called Breakthrough Listen. It looks for laser signals as opposed to the more traditional radio signals.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2016 02:08 PM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #95 on: 04/15/2016 02:05 PM »
At the moment it's one rich individual deciding to spend his money on a variety of research projects. TBH how he chooses to spend his personal wealth isn't anyone else's business, he's not taking the money out of your or mine's pockets. No doubt plenty of billionaires spend such money on art or property without the associated online debate about how they chose to spend their wealth.

It's the UK, you can be sure he'll be getting government money eventually (or quit).

Even setting that aside, just because someone is spending their own money doesn't mean we should feel free to let him know he's being foolish.

He is only doing a proof of concept (under phase 1). But even if he fails, laser sails and other laser technologies are promising technologies that could use the extra R&D funding.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2016 05:28 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Star One

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Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #96 on: 04/18/2016 04:57 PM »
First of a series of wider reports on the Breakthrough Initiatives Conference.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=35426
« Last Edit: 04/18/2016 04:58 PM by Star One »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #97 on: 04/19/2016 07:37 AM »
In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.

They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #98 on: 04/19/2016 08:15 AM »
They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.
There is some talk about electronically linked kilometer scale optical interferometers.
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Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #99 on: 04/19/2016 10:46 AM »
In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.

They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.

To be fair, direct imaging of exoplanets would require gigantic interferometers for high resolutions. See the image attached. For example for 32km pixels at 10 parsecs (32.6 light years) you need 144km2 of mirrors and a 100k km baseline. On the other hand it would take 196 years to get some data from a starshot probe.

« Last Edit: 04/19/2016 10:49 AM by Oli »

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #100 on: 04/19/2016 01:18 PM »
In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.

They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.

To be fair, direct imaging of exoplanets would require gigantic interferometers for high resolutions. See the image attached. For example for 32km pixels at 10 parsecs (32.6 light years) you need 144km2 of mirrors and a 100k km baseline. On the other hand it would take 196 years to get some data from a starshot probe.
Thanks to spectroscopy an exoplanet the size of Earth at only one pixel could still tell us a good deal. Though the smallest of the interferometers on that picture even at 10 pixels would be great. The IR version seems small enough to be doable but the atmosphere attenuates those wavelengths. So a high enough and wide enough mountain top may not exist.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #101 on: 04/19/2016 01:58 PM »
In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.

They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.

To be fair, direct imaging of exoplanets would require gigantic interferometers for high resolutions. See the image attached. For example for 32km pixels at 10 parsecs (32.6 light years) you need 144km2 of mirrors and a 100k km baseline. On the other hand it would take 196 years to get some data from a starshot probe.
Thanks to spectroscopy an exoplanet the size of Earth at only one pixel could still tell us a good deal. Though the smallest of the interferometers on that picture even at 10 pixels would be great. The IR version seems small enough to be doable but the atmosphere attenuates those wavelengths. So a high enough and wide enough mountain top may not exist.

Also note that going to 128 km per pixel reduces the needed square km of mirror surface by an order of magnitude, and you still get enough detail to track cloud circulation patterns on an Earth-sized planet, and do differential spectroscopy against different types of surfaces imaged on a given planet.  All for less than 5 square km of mirror area per collection site as opposed to 144.  Much more do-able, especially if the mirror banks are space-based, than the Starshot technology.  And the much more limited one-to-two pixel images requiring far smaller mirrors, as noted above, will still be incredibly useful for finding planets with life-supporting (or even life-indicating) atmospheric conditions.

Of course, recall that getting detailed probe data from close-up is only one of the motivators behind Starshot.  The larger motivator, I think, is to send pieces of working terrestrial technology to other star systems within a single human lifetime.  It's as much about being able to say that there is something of Mankind actively collecting data in situ from other star systems as it is about the data collected, I think.
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Offline Star One

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Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #102 on: 04/19/2016 07:16 PM »
Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Grunsfeld, asked about Breakthrough Starshot, is broadly supportive of it, but adds it will not affect NASA’s own science/exploration plans.
9:47 a.m. - 19 Apr 2016

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/722466762810335232
« Last Edit: 04/19/2016 07:16 PM by Star One »

Offline meekGee

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #103 on: 04/20/2016 04:35 AM »
In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.

They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.

To be fair, direct imaging of exoplanets would require gigantic interferometers for high resolutions. See the image attached. For example for 32km pixels at 10 parsecs (32.6 light years) you need 144km2 of mirrors and a 100k km baseline. On the other hand it would take 196 years to get some data from a starshot probe.

Compared to this project, things like the "sun focus" telescope seem easy.
(http://news.discovery.com/space/using-the-sun-as-a-magnifying-glass.htm)

Not every outlandish concept is a "starshot".   Sometimes it just doesn't make sense.

It's like Austin Powers telling the dealer to hold after getting 2 and 3, and proclaiming "I also like to play dangerously".

-----

Also, all those sails in the graphics are built for micro-g's.

If you want to carry 1 gram of concentrated load at 60,000g, it will weigh 60 kg...   So will need to attach to that sail with a huge array of nano wires, so as not to apply too much force in once location.  Remember that this sail is about 1 um thick if it to weigh only a few grams of 1 m2.

600,000 m/s2 is about the acceleration in a 1 m long gun barrel with a muzzle speed of 1000 m/s... and this sail is no bullet...

Also consider that the laser spot is not uniform, not if it's near the diffraction limit... how will the sail deal with differential forces on it in the axial direction?

This just makes no sense.


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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #104 on: 04/20/2016 04:55 AM »
In fact, I suspect that this will be the final fate of this project -- it will end up being easier to directly image exoplanets from Earth than to pick up the signal from a tiny spacecraft so far away.  So, even if it eventually proves possible to do, I think it will be made obsolete by better uses of the same technology needed to make it possible.

They're talking about a 1 km˛ optical array for receiving the signals from the spacecraft! If you can build that, no need for sending spacecraft, just use the optical array directly. Having optical arrays in various places in the solar system should get you great resolution.

To be fair, direct imaging of exoplanets would require gigantic interferometers for high resolutions. See the image attached. For example for 32km pixels at 10 parsecs (32.6 light years) you need 144km2 of mirrors and a 100k km baseline. On the other hand it would take 196 years to get some data from a starshot probe.

Yes, getting that kind of resolution at 32.6 light years requires a huge array -- but, even if you do manage to send your 1 gram starship at 0.2c and somehow keep it operational for 163 years, after 196 years you *still* need to have a huge array to pick up the signal from your 1 gram probe 32 light years away -- probably even bigger than 144 km^2.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #105 on: 04/20/2016 05:00 AM »
The larger motivator, I think, is to send pieces of working terrestrial technology to other star systems within a single human lifetime.  It's as much about being able to say that there is something of Mankind actively collecting data in situ from other star systems as it is about the data collected, I think.

A fair point.

But, if your goal is to send pieces of working terrestrial technology to other star systems within a single human lifetime, I suspect the more practical course would be to extend human lifetimes and send the probe at a slower speed.

Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #106 on: 04/20/2016 07:55 AM »
Yes, getting that kind of resolution at 32.6 light years requires a huge array -- but, even if you do manage to send your 1 gram starship at 0.2c and somehow keep it operational for 163 years, after 196 years you *still* need to have a huge array to pick up the signal from your 1 gram probe 32 light years away -- probably even bigger than 144 km^2.

The biggest issue with all those interstellar probe concepts is how long it takes for the probes to reach their target. Unless we reach a point of technological stagnation making a huge investment in something that will deliver results hundreds of years later is utterly pointless. In particular when there are competing concepts like telescopes. Until we want to look at flora and fauna on a nearby exoplanet in detail I think interstellar probes make no sense.
 
« Last Edit: 04/20/2016 07:56 AM by Oli »

Offline savuporo

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #107 on: 04/20/2016 03:04 PM »
The biggest issue with all those interstellar probe concepts is how long it takes for the probes to reach their target. Unless we reach a point of technological stagnation making a huge investment in something that will deliver results hundreds of years later is utterly pointless. In particular when there are competing concepts like telescopes. Until we want to look at flora and fauna on a nearby exoplanet in detail I think interstellar probes make no sense.
 
Nah, that's basically saying that Voyagers and Pioneers weren't worth doing, because we were going to have NERVA powered starships any day now that could get there faster.
Any technology and scientific knowledge frontier doesn't advance by itself, we actually need to make related investments and efforts.
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Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #108 on: 04/20/2016 05:23 PM »
In terms of the "wait for better technology" argument, all I will say is that I am the guy who not only thinks we should send things out at the limits of current technology, I actually look forward to seeing (in a future life, I'm sure) the first interstellar probes being collected up, barely into their far-sub-C journeys, by museum ships using no-longer-by-then-new FTL technologies... :)
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Offline RonM

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #109 on: 04/21/2016 01:10 AM »
My scant understanding of optical inferometers is that the processors have to be wildly fast to synch the signals, and that the problem gets worse the larger the distance between collectors.  Radio inferometers are easier because the wavelengths are so much longer than visible light.

I guess the good news here is that non-related advances in computing speed will naturally overcome the processing hurdles specific to optical interferometry, and in time, any telescope could be linked to create an array of any size.

More to the point of this thread though, photos of rotating planets would need to be very short duration photos to avoid smearing.  Otherwise, all you can do is measure average albedo, temps, atmospheric composition, etc....

Because of the short wavelengths, optical interferometers have to combine light from each telescope live. That's a complicated optical process.

Radio interferometers with much longer wavelengths can record signals and combine them later. As long as the observations are synchronized via atomic clocks.

The CHARA Array at Mount Wilson has a maximum baseline of 330 m, but that's with six 1 m telescopes for a total of less than 5 m2. Multiple km2 arrays are an incredible concept.

The engineering required for Breakthrough Starshot on many levels is incredible. Don't expect to see this happen anytime soon if ever.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #110 on: 04/21/2016 01:12 AM »
JWST with a good starshade (which is in itself a big investment, actually) would allow you to do study of a nearby exoplanet. Even though you'd just see a single pixel, you could get light curves, could even get rough images of continents, detailed spectroscopy, etc, if you looked long enough and with the right instruments.

But yeah, very good point about "just" building a good space interferometer to image these things.

...however, beamed dust particles would be a MUCH more efficient way of doing interstellar propulsion. You have to do it in space, but it'd take orders of magnitude less power for a given thrust, even potentially allowing a crewed flight if you had a multiple-terawatt orbital array (this is a lot, but not more than the whole world's power combined). Additionally, you wouldn't be bound by the diffraction limit (although getting precise pointing would be a huge challenge). Uncrewed probes comparable in mass to our current probes (and equipped with a mag-sail to slow down on approach) could definitely be sent using such an approach to the nearest star system(s) within about half a human lifespan. Uncrewed probes could be sent with a, say, 10GW orbital array. That's not absurd.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #111 on: 04/21/2016 01:31 AM »

Because of the short wavelengths, optical interferometers have to combine light from each telescope live. That's a complicated optical process.

Radio interferometers with much longer wavelengths can record signals and combine them later. As long as the observations are synchronized via atomic clocks.

The CHARA Array at Mount Wilson has a maximum baseline of 330 m, but that's with six 1 m telescopes for a total of less than 5 m2. Multiple km2 arrays are an incredible concept.
CHARA array has optical links between elements, which up until now has been the main techincal constraint for all optical interferometers.

According to the paper up thread, seems that this restriction is going awaybsoon and electronically linked array elements will become a real possibility soon, with the promise to extend baselines to kilometer ranges and beyond
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Offline RonM

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #112 on: 04/21/2016 01:57 AM »

Because of the short wavelengths, optical interferometers have to combine light from each telescope live. That's a complicated optical process.

Radio interferometers with much longer wavelengths can record signals and combine them later. As long as the observations are synchronized via atomic clocks.

The CHARA Array at Mount Wilson has a maximum baseline of 330 m, but that's with six 1 m telescopes for a total of less than 5 m2. Multiple km2 arrays are an incredible concept.
CHARA array has optical links between elements, which up until now has been the main techincal constraint for all optical interferometers.

According to the paper up thread, seems that this restriction is going awaybsoon and electronically linked array elements will become a real possibility soon, with the promise to extend baselines to kilometer ranges and beyond

That will make extending baselines easier, but a collecting area measured in km2 is still a big issue. 1 km2 is equal to the collecting area of nearly 13 thousand 10 m telescopes! We currently have three.

JWST with a good starshade (which is in itself a big investment, actually) would allow you to do study of a nearby exoplanet. Even though you'd just see a single pixel, you could get light curves, could even get rough images of continents, detailed spectroscopy, etc, if you looked long enough and with the right instruments.

I think this would be a better way to go.

Offline hop

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #113 on: 04/21/2016 01:59 AM »
According to the paper up thread, seems that this restriction is going away soon and electronically linked array elements will become a real possibility soon, with the promise to extend baselines to kilometer ranges and beyond
Note that is an intensity interferometer. It may be useful, but AFAIK it doesn't have the same capabilities as traditional optically linked interferometers or radio VLBI.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #114 on: 04/21/2016 02:24 AM »
According to the paper up thread, seems that this restriction is going away soon and electronically linked array elements will become a real possibility soon, with the promise to extend baselines to kilometer ranges and beyond
Note that is an intensity interferometer. It may be useful, but AFAIK it doesn't have the same capabilities as traditional optically linked interferometers or radio VLBI.

That Wikipedia article seems out of date. It seems that even though direct phase information is lost, aperture synthesis images actually are still possible. But the math involved  is beyond me
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Offline Oli

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #115 on: 04/21/2016 11:22 AM »
The biggest issue with all those interstellar probe concepts is how long it takes for the probes to reach their target. Unless we reach a point of technological stagnation making a huge investment in something that will deliver results hundreds of years later is utterly pointless. In particular when there are competing concepts like telescopes. Until we want to look at flora and fauna on a nearby exoplanet in detail I think interstellar probes make no sense.
 
Nah, that's basically saying that Voyagers and Pioneers weren't worth doing, because we were going to have NERVA powered starships any day now that could get there faster.

To my knowledge the Voyagers and Pioneers fulfilled their scientific objectives within 10 years, Voyagers 1+2 cost $3.7bn in today's dollars. It's more as if trillions of dollars would have been spent in 1977 on an interstellar probe that arrives in 2077.

Ultimately an interstellar probe must not only come at reasonable cost but also be preferable to "real-time" alternatives for centuries to come (such as telescopes).

« Last Edit: 04/21/2016 11:22 AM by Oli »

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #116 on: 04/22/2016 04:37 PM »
More info in this new article.

Quote
The Starshot sail would fly edge-on to minimize the cross-section exposed to matter in the interstellar medium. Here we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns because we’ve only gotten one mission out beyond the heliopause, and it — Voyager — wasn’t designed to do the kind of measurements we’d like to have about the Local Interstellar Medium (LISM). But based on what we do know about local ‘bubbles’ in the medium and our Sun’s position in them, a fast mission to Alpha Centauri seems survivable at least by some of the craft thrown at it. Redundancy thus becomes crucial, which is why the plan is to send a large number of sails.

And here we arrive at yet another challenge, or ‘miracle’ if you will. We’ll look at getting a signal back to Earth on Monday, but the plan is to use the sail itself as an optical element, turning it into a phased receiver as well as a transmitter. The tolerances needed in doing this, and the technologies required to shape the sail at its destination, remain unexplored territory. We have to ensure that this element is not the showstopper. As you might expect, data reception back on Earth is to be handled through the enormous laser array that sent the craft.

That array also serves as a kilometer-class telescope, meaning it would have a useful future of continuing astronomical observation. And as a beamer, says Worden, the laser array is multi-purpose. A successful beamer could make possible any number of missions within the Solar System and beyond, including the gravitational lens FOCAL mission. We have to remember we’re not just targeting Alpha Centauri. “We’re convinced we can contemplate in this century, and perhaps in a single generation, expanding the human reach to the stars.” Note the plural.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=35473

Offline D_Dom

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #117 on: 04/25/2016 10:02 PM »
Seems like this approach explains the steering. Can't say I understand the concept so I may be mistaken.
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2016/nasa-begins-testing-of-revolutionary-e-sail-technology.html
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Offline Req

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #118 on: 05/01/2016 03:18 PM »
According to the paper up thread, seems that this restriction is going away soon and electronically linked array elements will become a real possibility soon, with the promise to extend baselines to kilometer ranges and beyond
Note that is an intensity interferometer. It may be useful, but AFAIK it doesn't have the same capabilities as traditional optically linked interferometers or radio VLBI.

That Wikipedia article seems out of date. It seems that even though direct phase information is lost, aperture synthesis images actually are still possible. But the math involved  is beyond me

From the paper:

Quote
3.4. Image reconstruction from second-order coherence

While intensity interferometry possesses the advantage of not being sensitive to phase errors in the optical light path, ordinary two-telescope correlations also do not permit such phases of the complex coherence to be measured. These correlations provide the absolute magnitudes of the respective Fourier transform components of the source image, while the phases are not directly obtained. Such quantitites can be used well by themselves to fit model parameters such as stellar diameters, stellar limb darkening, binary separations, and circumstellar disk thicknesses, but actual images cannot be directly computed through a simple inverse Fourier transform.

While a two-component interferometer (such as the classical one at Narrabri) offers only very limited coverage of the Fourier (u, v)-plane, a multicomponent system provides numerous baselines and an extensive coverage of the interferometric plane. Already intuitively, it is clear that the information contained there must place stringent constraints on the source image. For instance, viewing the familiar Airy diffraction pattern (cf. Fig. 1 left), one immediately recognizes it as originating in a circular aperture, although only intensities are seen. However, it is also obvious that a reasonably complete coverage of the diffraction image is required to convincingly identify a circular aperture as the source.

Various techniques (most unrelated to astronomy) have been developed for recovering the phase of a complex function when only its magnitude is known. Methods specifically for intensity interferometry were worked out by Holmes et al. (2004, 2010, 2013) for one and two dimensions, respectively. Once a sufficient coverage of the Fourier plane is available, phase recovery and imaging indeed become possible. Nuńez et al. (2012a,b) applied this phase recovery to reconstruct images from simulated intensity interferometry observations, demonstrating that also rather complex images can be reconstructed. (However, a limitation that still remains is the non-uniqueness between the image and its mirrored reflection.)
« Last Edit: 05/01/2016 03:22 PM by Req »

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #119 on: 05/13/2016 10:26 PM »
Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Among the winners of NIAC Phase 2 awards is a directed-energy study for the privately-funded Project Starshot:  http://go.nasa.gov/1Tb7TB3

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #120 on: 05/13/2016 10:54 PM »
"Ultimately an interstellar probe must not only come at reasonable cost but also be preferable to "real-time" alternatives for centuries to come (such as telescopes)."

Surely New Horizons at Pluto teaches us that even amazing future telescopes looking at Alpha Centauri are not going to be anywhere near as useful as having a probe up close.  You have to get close.  JWST giving us a single pixel may be better than what we can do now, but it's still worse than Hubble at Pluto.  Get close!

Offline hop

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #121 on: 05/14/2016 09:44 PM »
Surely New Horizons at Pluto teaches us that even amazing future telescopes looking at Alpha Centauri are not going to be anywhere near as useful as having a probe up close.  You have to get close.  JWST giving us a single pixel may be better than what we can do now, but it's still worse than Hubble at Pluto.  Get close!
OTOH, a Hubble class telescope zipping through a solar system at 0.2c would actually not be able to capture a lot of data. Imagine getting a few days of Hubble time to study the entire solar system, most of it from distances of many AU, with minimal prior knowledge. Don't get me wrong, if it worked it would still be awesome and provide some data far better than we could get from Earth, but the depth and breadth would be quite constrained. As far as I can tell getting even Hubble level performance out of the proposed architecture requires stupendous levels of hand-waving. Point of all this being that "getting close" does require a minimum level of capability to win, and getting there will be extremely hard.

It's also worth noting that if the starshot concept works, the same technology can almost certainly be applied to make space telescopes vastly more capable than anything we have now. If the "sail as a telescope" thing is viable, the benchmark won't be JWST: You could make space telescopes that uses a few thousand of these things as segments of a deployable mirror or build vast interferometric arrays. This should be far easier than the interstellar mission, since many of the hard problems like laser heating, acceleration, interstellar dust, tiny power budgets, gram scale science instruments, autonomy etc. can be ignored.
« Last Edit: 05/14/2016 09:59 PM by hop »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #122 on: 05/15/2016 01:15 AM »
Brake against the interstellar plasma.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #123 on: 05/25/2016 08:16 PM »
We can begin an interstellar mission today – and we should

Quote
The reaction was understandable. All previous plans for interstellar flight relied on non-existent or impractical technologies such as antimatter, wormholes and warp drives. But now we have a concrete path forward, which I have published in detail. It is possible to begin the journey to the stars today.

Quote
Once we master directed-energy propulsion, a breathtaking range of possibilities open before us. Laser-array technology is modular and scalable, allowing us to send ever-larger and more capable systems to nearby stars. It would enable rapid travel to any destination in the solar system, linked back to Earth via high data-rate laser communications. Focused beams of laser energy could protect our planet by deflecting any hazardous near-Earth objects such as asteroids and comets. Used as a remote-sensing probe, the laser array could determine the composition of distant bodies in the solar system. The same basic tech could be configured as extremely large, high-precision, phased-array telescopes for specialised studies in astronomy and cosmology. If we so desired, we could even beam messages to potential alien civilisations that would be detectable across the entire visible Universe. More important, other intelligent life presumably could do the same thing, and thus we should be able to detect them. I recently published a paper on this possibility.

Quote
Right now, directed-energy technology is poorly appreciated outside a small community, but it is progressing rapidly. The power output of laser systems and the ability to synchronise and ‘parallel-process’ with them are doubling approximately every 18 months, similar in pace to ‘Moore’s Law’, which transformed the semiconductor industry. At that rate, we can expect greatly expanded capabilities to emerge over the coming decades. In the current concept, the fastest interstellar probes are designed to be flyby missions; farther in the future, an interplanetary transport network might use a second, decelerating laser array at the destination – Mars, for example – to shuttle a steady flow of passengers and cargo back and forth between the two stops.

https://aeon.co/ideas/we-can-begin-an-interstellar-mission-today-and-we-should

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #124 on: 05/25/2016 08:51 PM »
Good point. This proposal starts to put interstellar propulsion technology down near something we can try to engineer.


...though I think actual laser propulsion is orders of magnitude too wasteful (compared to alternatives), I do appreciate the proposal for moving the idea of interstellar propulsion to something we can address this century.
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Offline hop

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #126 on: 08/19/2016 08:12 PM »
Related arixv posting: The interaction of relativistic spacecrafts with the interstellar medium

Quote
The Breakthrough Starshot initiative aims to launch a gram-scale spacecraft to a speed of v∼0.2c, capable of reaching the nearest star system, α Centauri, in about 20 years. However, a critical challenge for the initiative is the damage to the spacecraft by interstellar gas and dust during the journey. In this paper, we quantify the interaction of a relativistic spacecraft with gas and dust in the interstellar medium.
It's seem to me the configurations they consider aren't representative of what has been described for starshot (in particular starshot suggest flying the sail edge on) but still interesting.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #127 on: 08/22/2016 09:16 AM »
I don't have any insights about how Breakthrough Starshot could solve the relativistic-velocity MMOD problem. The only solution I've ever seen was described in a mid-80s textbook that suggested a dual-purpose magsail that, as well as acting as a brake for target approach would also generate an artificial heliosphere during the cruise phase, deflecting charged debris (ionised heavy nuclei) along the outside of the field and (hopefully) generating enough of a bow shock to brake or even disintegrate millimetre-scale debris.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #128 on: 08/22/2016 10:17 AM »
Quote
The reaction was understandable. All previous plans for interstellar flight relied on non-existent or impractical technologies such as antimatter, wormholes and warp drives. But now we have a concrete path forward, which I have published in detail.
https://aeon.co/ideas/we-can-begin-an-interstellar-mission-today-and-we-should

Untrue.  Project Longshot, using nuclear pulse propulsion, did not rely on non-existent or impractical technologies.  And it was developed in the 1980s.

A reasonable case could be made that Project Longshot is more realistic than the Breakthrough Starshot program.

I'm all for moving ahead with researching the Breakthrough Starshot idea.  Lets just be realistic, though.  It isn't a magic bullet.  It has advantages and disadvantages compared to other possible programs we could spend our resources on.

One billionaire deciding this is the approach he likes best doesn't mean everyone else needs to agree.

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #129 on: 08/22/2016 12:04 PM »
Quote
The reaction was understandable. All previous plans for interstellar flight relied on non-existent or impractical technologies such as antimatter, wormholes and warp drives. But now we have a concrete path forward, which I have published in detail.
https://aeon.co/ideas/we-can-begin-an-interstellar-mission-today-and-we-should

Untrue.  Project Longshot, using nuclear pulse propulsion, did not rely on non-existent or impractical technologies.  And it was developed in the 1980s.

A reasonable case could be made that Project Longshot is more realistic than the Breakthrough Starshot program.

I'm all for moving ahead with researching the Breakthrough Starshot idea.  Lets just be realistic, though.  It isn't a magic bullet.  It has advantages and disadvantages compared to other possible programs we could spend our resources on.

One billionaire deciding this is the approach he likes best doesn't mean everyone else needs to agree.

Kind of an academic response as I've seen no indication that he's asking everyone else to agree. For some reason you're answering a question that doesn't need answering at this stage let alone asking.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #130 on: 08/23/2016 05:02 AM »
Quote
The reaction was understandable. All previous plans for interstellar flight relied on non-existent or impractical technologies such as antimatter, wormholes and warp drives. But now we have a concrete path forward, which I have published in detail.
https://aeon.co/ideas/we-can-begin-an-interstellar-mission-today-and-we-should

Untrue.  Project Longshot, using nuclear pulse propulsion, did not rely on non-existent or impractical technologies.  And it was developed in the 1980s.

A reasonable case could be made that Project Longshot is more realistic than the Breakthrough Starshot program.

I'm all for moving ahead with researching the Breakthrough Starshot idea.  Lets just be realistic, though.  It isn't a magic bullet.  It has advantages and disadvantages compared to other possible programs we could spend our resources on.

One billionaire deciding this is the approach he likes best doesn't mean everyone else needs to agree.

Kind of an academic response as I've seen no indication that he's asking everyone else to agree. For some reason you're answering a question that doesn't need answering at this stage let alone asking.

I'm replying to an over-the-top claim that is incorrect.

And it absolutely does need answering now, because there's an organization that has been formed to try to work on the Breakthrough Starshot program.  Talented engineers need to decide whether to work on that project or another.  People with money who want to fund space projects need to decide to fund this organization or another.  Yuri Milner put up the start-up money, but he doesn't plan to fund the whole thing himself.

I'm not against this program as one of many to pursue as a research program.  But hyping it up as more than it is is harmful to other programs, and it's worth bringing that up.

Anyway, what exactly do you think the NSF forums are for if not to debate such issues?

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #131 on: 08/23/2016 06:55 AM »
Quote
The reaction was understandable. All previous plans for interstellar flight relied on non-existent or impractical technologies such as antimatter, wormholes and warp drives. But now we have a concrete path forward, which I have published in detail.
https://aeon.co/ideas/we-can-begin-an-interstellar-mission-today-and-we-should

Untrue.  Project Longshot, using nuclear pulse propulsion, did not rely on non-existent or impractical technologies.  And it was developed in the 1980s.

A reasonable case could be made that Project Longshot is more realistic than the Breakthrough Starshot program.

I'm all for moving ahead with researching the Breakthrough Starshot idea.  Lets just be realistic, though.  It isn't a magic bullet.  It has advantages and disadvantages compared to other possible programs we could spend our resources on.

One billionaire deciding this is the approach he likes best doesn't mean everyone else needs to agree.

Kind of an academic response as I've seen no indication that he's asking everyone else to agree. For some reason you're answering a question that doesn't need answering at this stage let alone asking.

I'm replying to an over-the-top claim that is incorrect.

And it absolutely does need answering now, because there's an organization that has been formed to try to work on the Breakthrough Starshot program.  Talented engineers need to decide whether to work on that project or another.  People with money who want to fund space projects need to decide to fund this organization or another.  Yuri Milner put up the start-up money, but he doesn't plan to fund the whole thing himself.

I'm not against this program as one of many to pursue as a research program.  But hyping it up as more than it is is harmful to other programs, and it's worth bringing that up.

Anyway, what exactly do you think the NSF forums are for if not to debate such issues?

As there are no other existing contenders in this area that have even a reasonable degree of seed funding it seems a pointless debate as his project is the only show in town. Everyone else are just paper exercises. At least he's been willing to stick his head above the parapet and put some fair degree of money to back his beliefs in the best way forward on the matter. For that he has my respect and I am less than impressed by those who just sit behind their keyboards sniping at this.

Offline TakeOff

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #132 on: 08/24/2016 07:48 AM »
I think that the two sun like stars Alpha and Beta Centauri are more interesting than any exoplanet. And easier to observe. What star spots do they have, what magnetic field and stellar wind. To get heliophysics beyond the sample of one. There could be big surprises. Maybe even en explanation to why we are alone in the universe. The red dwarf Proxima would also be very interesting for a close flyby, and the Luhman binary brown dwarf, and the white dwarf Sirius B. We have a great collection of different star types among our 10 closest neighbors.
« Last Edit: 08/24/2016 07:54 AM by TakeOff »

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #133 on: 08/24/2016 08:19 AM »
I think that the two sun like stars Alpha and Beta Centauri are more interesting than any exoplanet. And easier to observe. What star spots do they have, what magnetic field and stellar wind. To get heliophysics beyond the sample of one. There could be big surprises. Maybe even en explanation to why we are alone in the universe. The red dwarf Proxima would also be very interesting for a close flyby, and the Luhman binary brown dwarf, and the white dwarf Sirius B. We have a great collection of different star types among our 10 closest neighbors.

Face it the people who fund these things are not interested in stars so much but planets will always get interest.. Also stating we are alone in the universe is a pretty ludicrous thing to say at this stage of proceedings.

Offline Craftyatom

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #134 on: 08/24/2016 06:27 PM »
I don't have any insights about how Breakthrough Starshot could solve the relativistic-velocity MMOD problem. The only solution I've ever seen was described in a mid-80s textbook that suggested a dual-purpose magsail that, as well as acting as a brake for target approach would also generate an artificial heliosphere during the cruise phase, deflecting charged debris (ionised heavy nuclei) along the outside of the field and (hopefully) generating enough of a bow shock to brake or even disintegrate millimetre-scale debris.

FWIW, I've read about "active" debris-clearing - releasing sand from the spacecraft after it's accelerated to light speed, and letting it float ahead, taking the brunt of any impact and speeding any debris encountered up to a significant fraction of the ship itself.  Of course, this adds mass, and isn't exactly reliable.

However, I believe that Breakthrough is counting on redundancy, not mitigation - launching many small probes rather than one large one, and trusting that the probability of survival is greater than 1/(the number of probes launched).
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #135 on: 08/24/2016 09:15 PM »
Well, Breakthrough at least now have a target! Earth-sized world deduced to orbit in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri.

At 4.3 light years away, I would say a 20-30 year one-way flight time is plausible.
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Offline TakeOff

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #136 on: 08/27/2016 01:32 PM »
I think that the two sun like stars Alpha and Beta Centauri are more interesting than any exoplanet. And easier to observe. What star spots do they have, what magnetic field and stellar wind. To get heliophysics beyond the sample of one. There could be big surprises. Maybe even en explanation to why we are alone in the universe. The red dwarf Proxima would also be very interesting for a close flyby, and the Luhman binary brown dwarf, and the white dwarf Sirius B. We have a great collection of different star types among our 10 closest neighbors.

Face it the people who fund these things are not interested in stars so much but planets will always get interest.. Also stating we are alone in the universe is a pretty ludicrous thing to say at this stage of proceedings.
Intellectually interested or not, we all depend on the Sun and its behavior. Maybe ours is unique in a way we cannot understand until we examine its false twins out there. Of course we are alone! We will colonize the entire Milky Way within one percent of the age of the universe from now. Why has none of the hundreds of billions of stars done that before? Of course we are alone!

That's THE big mystery of life and cosmology, to explain why we are alone. The good news is that something unique happened right here where we sit. We don't need to travel far away to investigate what once happened here. We can bio-archaeologically find out the answer to this mystery here in our back yard where it evidently happened.

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #137 on: 08/27/2016 06:01 PM »
I think that the two sun like stars Alpha and Beta Centauri are more interesting than any exoplanet. And easier to observe. What star spots do they have, what magnetic field and stellar wind. To get heliophysics beyond the sample of one. There could be big surprises. Maybe even en explanation to why we are alone in the universe. The red dwarf Proxima would also be very interesting for a close flyby, and the Luhman binary brown dwarf, and the white dwarf Sirius B. We have a great collection of different star types among our 10 closest neighbors.

Face it the people who fund these things are not interested in stars so much but planets will always get interest.. Also stating we are alone in the universe is a pretty ludicrous thing to say at this stage of proceedings.
Intellectually interested or not, we all depend on the Sun and its behavior. Maybe ours is unique in a way we cannot understand until we examine its false twins out there. Of course we are alone! We will colonize the entire Milky Way within one percent of the age of the universe from now. Why has none of the hundreds of billions of stars done that before? Of course we are alone!

That's THE big mystery of life and cosmology, to explain why we are alone. The good news is that something unique happened right here where we sit. We don't need to travel far away to investigate what once happened here. We can bio-archaeologically find out the answer to this mystery here in our back yard where it evidently happened.

Your certainty about us being alone in the universe is likely to be proved wrong even within my lifetime.

Offline Arb

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #138 on: 08/27/2016 09:58 PM »
Your certainty about us being alone in the universe is likely to be proved wrong even within my lifetime.
Well you'll live to see then :)

The universe is a mighty big place but if we limit it to just our galaxy then the Rare Earth hypothesis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis) seems quite compelling and would explain the Fermi Paradox.

But this is as much a matter of belief as reason so YMM well V.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #139 on: 08/28/2016 03:03 AM »
Quote
The reaction was understandable. All previous plans for interstellar flight relied on non-existent or impractical technologies such as antimatter, wormholes and warp drives. But now we have a concrete path forward, which I have published in detail.
https://aeon.co/ideas/we-can-begin-an-interstellar-mission-today-and-we-should

Untrue.  Project Longshot, using nuclear pulse propulsion, did not rely on non-existent or impractical technologies.  And it was developed in the 1980s.

A reasonable case could be made that Project Longshot is more realistic than the Breakthrough Starshot program.

I'm all for moving ahead with researching the Breakthrough Starshot idea.  Lets just be realistic, though.  It isn't a magic bullet.  It has advantages and disadvantages compared to other possible programs we could spend our resources on.

One billionaire deciding this is the approach he likes best doesn't mean everyone else needs to agree.

Kind of an academic response as I've seen no indication that he's asking everyone else to agree. For some reason you're answering a question that doesn't need answering at this stage let alone asking.

I'm replying to an over-the-top claim that is incorrect.

And it absolutely does need answering now, because there's an organization that has been formed to try to work on the Breakthrough Starshot program.  Talented engineers need to decide whether to work on that project or another.  People with money who want to fund space projects need to decide to fund this organization or another.  Yuri Milner put up the start-up money, but he doesn't plan to fund the whole thing himself.

I'm not against this program as one of many to pursue as a research program.  But hyping it up as more than it is is harmful to other programs, and it's worth bringing that up.

Anyway, what exactly do you think the NSF forums are for if not to debate such issues?

As there are no other existing contenders in this area that have even a reasonable degree of seed funding it seems a pointless debate as his project is the only show in town. Everyone else are just paper exercises. At least he's been willing to stick his head above the parapet and put some fair degree of money to back his beliefs in the best way forward on the matter. For that he has my respect and I am less than impressed by those who just sit behind their keyboards sniping at this.
For the record, the US govt put forward actual funding to test the basic idea behind Project Orion:


...and materials tests were also done to study pusher plate erosion. It wasn't just paper studies.
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Offline rweede

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #140 on: 08/29/2016 08:34 AM »
Untrue.  Project Longshot, using nuclear pulse propulsion, did not rely on non-existent or impractical technologies.  And it was developed in the 1980s.

Quoting from the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Quote
Similar to Project Daedalus, Longshot was designed with existing technology in mind, although some development would have been required. For example, the Project Longshot concept assumes "a three-order-of-magnitude leap over current propulsion technology".

"Some development" is quite the understatement. We don't have inertial confinement fusion of the kind of efficiency necessary for Longshot, and we don't have ANY machine that can be expect to keep working for 100 years without any kind of human intervention, much less a 300 kw fission reactor at full blast. So I would say Project Longshot very much relied on technology that does not exist even now, 30 years later.

Regarding the technical difficulties, Breakthrough Starshot seems at least as doable ...

Offline Star One

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Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #141 on: 08/29/2016 06:44 PM »
First of Paul Gilster's reports from the recent Breakthrough Starshot meeting.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=36265
« Last Edit: 08/29/2016 06:44 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #142 on: 08/29/2016 09:06 PM »
Quoting from the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Quote
Similar to Project Daedalus, Longshot was designed with existing technology in mind, although some development would have been required. For example, the Project Longshot concept assumes "a three-order-of-magnitude leap over current propulsion technology".

"Some development" is quite the understatement. We don't have inertial confinement fusion of the kind of efficiency necessary for Longshot, and we don't have ANY machine that can be expect to keep working for 100 years without any kind of human intervention, much less a 300 kw fission reactor at full blast. So I would say Project Longshot very much relied on technology that does not exist even now, 30 years later.

Regarding the technical difficulties, Breakthrough Starshot seems at least as doable ...

Sorry for being off-topic...

Was Longshot even a real project? The document that every website refers to seems to be written by a group of undergraduates at US Naval Academy for some course(s). IMO, it's not even a particularly good undergraduate research report.

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #143 on: 08/30/2016 07:28 PM »
Breakthrough Starshot report 2.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=36277

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #144 on: 08/31/2016 10:49 PM »
(Sorry haven't read the entire thread. If you know it has already been discussed just say so and I will trawl for it. If you know who by that could help locate it maybe.)

Has there been discussion of the vast range of nearer targets this could apply to? Obviously you would not just run it once and there are hundreds of known dwarf planets and a possible new ninth planet in our solar system that are still well out of practical reach. Perhaps such lasers could have duel uses also such as powering thermal or electric propulsion near earth or a probe far from the sun?

Another possible application of this array: space junk removal?

(I know RobotBeat doesn't like the beamed power idea compared to SEP but I can't remember the issue. Sorry RB.)
« Last Edit: 09/01/2016 01:44 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #145 on: 09/03/2016 07:14 PM »
(Sorry haven't read the entire thread. If you know it has already been discussed just say so and I will trawl for it. If you know who by that could help locate it maybe.)

Has there been discussion of the vast range of nearer targets this could apply to? Obviously you would not just run it once and there are hundreds of known dwarf planets and a possible new ninth planet in our solar system that are still well out of practical reach. Perhaps such lasers could have duel uses also such as powering thermal or electric propulsion near earth or a probe far from the sun?

Another possible application of this array: space junk removal?

(I know RobotBeat doesn't like the beamed power idea compared to SEP but I can't remember the issue. Sorry RB.)
Of course we can use it for other trips.

I dislike beamed propulsion when SEP works just as well with a free beamed fusion power source (the Sun). Now interstellar travel is another matter because SEP clearly fails.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #146 on: 09/05/2016 04:54 PM »
Another update this time talking sails.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=36310

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #147 on: 01/09/2017 07:57 PM »
VLT TO SEARCH FOR PLANETS IN ALPHA CENTAURI SYSTEM

ESO Signs Agreement with Breakthrough Initiatives

ESO has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives to adapt the Very Large Telescope instrumentation in Chile to conduct a search for planets in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri. Such planets could be the targets for an eventual launch of miniature space probes by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative.
ESO, represented by the Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives, represented by Pete Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. The agreement provides funds for the VISIR (VLT Imager and Spectrometer for mid-Infrared) instrument, mounted at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to be modified in order to greatly enhance its ability to search for potentially habitable planets around Alpha Centauri, the closest stellar system to the Earth. The agreement also provides for telescope time to allow a careful search programme to be conducted in 2019.
The discovery in 2016 of a planet, Proxima b, around Proxima Centauri, the third and faintest star of the Alpha Centauri system, adds even further impetus to this search.
Knowing where the nearest exoplanets are is of paramount interest for Breakthrough Starshot, the research and engineering programme launched in April 2016, which aims to demonstrate proof of concept for ultra-fast light-driven “nanocraft”, laying the foundation for the first launch to Alpha Centauri within a generation.
Detecting a habitable planet is an enormous challenge due to the brightness of the planetary system’s host star, which tends to overwhelm the relatively dim planets. One way to make this easier is to observe in the mid-infrared wavelength range, where the thermal glow from an orbiting planet greatly reduces the brightness gap between it and its host star. But even in the mid-infrared, the star remains millions of times brighter than the planets to be detected, which calls for a dedicated technique to reduce the blinding stellar light.
The existing mid-infrared instrument VISIR on the VLT will provide such performance if it were enhanced to greatly improve the image quality using adaptive optics, and adapted to employ a technique called coronagraphy to reduce the stellar light and thereby reveal the possible signal of potential terrestrial planets. Breakthrough Initiatives will pay for a large fraction of the necessary technologies and development costs for such an experiment, and ESO will provide the required observing capabilities and time.
The new hardware includes an instrument module contracted to Kampf Telescope Optics (KTO), Munich, which will host the wavefront sensor, and a novel detector calibration device. In addition, there are plans for a new coronagraph to be developed jointly by University of Ličge (Belgium) and Uppsala University (Sweden).
Detecting and studying potentially habitable planets orbiting other stars will be one of the main scientific goals of the upcoming European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Although the increased size of the E-ELT will be essential to obtaining an image of a planet at larger distances in the Milky Way, the light collecting power of the VLT is just sufficient to image a planet around the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.
The developments for VISIR will also be beneficial for the future METIS instrument, to be mounted on the E-ELT, as the knowledge gained and proof of concept will be directly transferable. The huge size of the E-ELT should allow METIS to detect and study exoplanets the size of Mars orbiting Alpha Centauri, if they exist, as well as other potentially habitable planets around other nearby stars.
More Information

The Breakthrough Initiatives are a program of scientific and technological exploration founded in 2015 by Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner to explore the Universe, seek scientific evidence of life beyond Earth, and encourage public debate from a planetary perspective.
Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for a new technology, enabling ultra-light unmanned space flight at 20% of the speed of light, and to lay the foundations for a flyby mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation.
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.
Links

Breakthrough Initiative
Photos of the VLT
Contacts

Markus Kasper
ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6359
Email: mkasper@eso.org
Breakthrough Initiatives
Email: media@breakthroughprize.org
Janet Wootten
Rubenstein Communications, Inc.
Tel: +1 212 843 8024
Email: jwootten@rubenstein.com
Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
Email: rhook@eso.org
Connect with ESO on social media

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #148 on: 04/19/2017 07:09 PM »
BREAKTHROUGH INITIATIVES TO HOST WORLD-RENOWNED SCIENTISTS AND SCHOLARS IN SUMMIT ON LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE AND SPACE EXPLORATION

Second annual “Breakthrough Discuss” conference held April 20-21 and broadcast on Facebook Live

San Francisco – April 18, 2017 – Breakthrough Initiatives today announced its second annual Breakthrough Discuss scientific conference, which will bring together leading astronomers, engineers, astrobiologists and astrophysicists to advance discussion surrounding recent discoveries of potentially habitable planets in nearby star systems. The conference will take place on Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21, at Stanford University.
The two days of discussions will focus on newly discovered Earth-like “exoplanets” in the Alpha Centauri and TRAPPIST-1 planetary systems, and new evidence that these planets could be habitable, as well as their potential as targets for novel methods of space exploration.
Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Queen Mary University of London, and Michaël Gillon, University of Ličge, will serve as keynote speakers. Sessions will be chaired by Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona, Jill Tarter, former director of the Center for SETI Research, and Avi Loeb, Harvard University. A full overview of the sessions and panels are listed below.
“In the last 10 months, the world of astronomy has been rocked by discoveries of other planetary systems that look remarkably like our own,” said S. Pete Worden, Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “The Breakthrough Discuss conference brings together many of the leading minds to advance the conversation on the potential for life on other worlds and to interrogate the conflicting theories and hypotheses prompted by this new data.”
The two-day event will feature three sessions of 19 presentations and 15 panelists. The first will focus on recent observations of nearby planets, including Proxima b, and new techniques for observing them. The second session will examine the possibility of intelligent life in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood, and recent attempts to search for it with Breakthrough Listen. The third session will assess the significance of the newly-discovered exoplanets for the long-term Breakthrough Starshot endeavor, a program spearheaded by Yuri Milner to develop a practical interstellar space probe.
As the closest known exoplanet, Proxima b is the current primary target for Starshot, which aims to develop the technology to send gram-scale spacecraft travelling at 20 percent the speed of light to Alpha Centauri, some 4.367 light years away. Starshot mission leaders Avi Loeb, Philip Lubin and Zac Manchester will be among the distinguished participants at Breakthrough Discuss.
The conference will be broadcast on Facebook Live at www.Facebook.com/BreakthroughPrize. Viewers are encouraged to join in the conversation and submit questions, which have the opportunity to be answered by the panelists in real-time.
Start times for all sessions will also be posted on the Breakthrough Facebook page. For more information on the program, including a detailed schedule, please visit: breakthroughinitiatives.org/Events.
Breakthrough Discuss is hosted by Stanford University’s Department of Physics and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and sponsored by the Breakthrough Initiatives.
Breakthrough Discuss is an annual academic conference focused on life in the Universe and novel ideas for space exploration.
Breakthrough Initiatives are a suite of scientific and technological programs exploring the big questions around life in the Universe, such as, Are we alone? What are the nearest habitable planets? And can we become an interstellar civilization?
For more information see breakthroughinitiatives.org


Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #149 on: 04/20/2017 09:23 PM »
BREAKTHROUGH LISTEN INITIATIVE PUBLISHES INITIAL RESULTS

Analysis results of petabytes of data from the first year of Green Bank Telescope observations made public, including the 11 events ranked highest for significance

San Francisco – April 20, 2017 – Breakthrough Listen – the initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe – has released its 11 events ranked highest for significance as well as summary data analysis results. It is considered unlikely that any of these signals originate from artificial extraterrestrial sources, but the search continues. Further, Listen has submitted for publication (available April 20) in a leading astrophysics journal the analysis of 692 stars, comprising all spectral types, observed during its first year of observations with the Green Bank Telescope.
Breakthrough Listen has so far acquired several petabytes of data using the Green Bank Radio Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, Lick Observatory’s Automated Planet Finder on Mt. Hamilton in California, and the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. The Breakthrough Listen science team at the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center (BSRC) designed and built an analysis pipeline that scans through billions of radio channels in a search for unique signals that might indicate the presence of technology developed by civilizations outside our Solar System.
Initial results from deploying this pipeline on the first year of Breakthrough Listen data taken with the “L-band” receiver at GBT (covering frequencies from 1.1 – 1.9 GHz) have been submitted for publication in one of the world’s leading astronomy journals. Snapshot data has been released for the 11 highest ranked events that rose above the pipeline’s threshold for significance, as well as summary results from the complete analysis. Data is available at breakthroughinitiatives.org/OpenDataSearch, and BSRC Director Andrew Siemion will be on Facebook Live presenting the results at 3:10pm PT this Thursday, April 20 at the Breakthrough Discuss conference.
“With the submission of this paper, the first scientific results from Breakthrough Listen are now available for the world to review,” said Dr. Siemion. Although the search has not yet detected a convincing signal from extraterrestrial intelligence, these are early days. The work that has been completed so far provides a launch pad for deeper and more comprehensive analysis to come.”
The software used for the analysis in these papers has been made available in a github repository1, along with associated documentation2. This enables programmers and machine learning experts (even those with no prior astronomy knowledge) to join the search for artificial signals, by developing increasingly sophisticated algorithms to comb through the datasets that continue to flow not just from GBT, but from the other participating telescopes.
Data Analysis

The basics of searching for signatures of extraterrestrial technology3 are quite simple. Artificial signals can be distinguished from natural processes through features like narrow bandwidth; irregular spectral behavior, pulsing, or modulation patterns; as well as broad-band signals with unusual characteristics. However, human technology emits signals (known as radio frequency interference) similar to the ones being searched for. This means that algorithms must be designed to ensure that signals are coming from a fixed point relative to the stars or other targets being observed, and not from local interferers (including Earth-orbiting satellites).
The Berkeley SETI Research Center Breakthrough Listen science team examined data on 692 stars from the primary target list from GBT, consisting of three five-minute observations per star, interspersed with five-minute observations of a set of secondary targets. By performing an analysis of thresholded frequency channels, as well as a Doppler drift search (for details see: github.com/UCBerkeleySETI/breakthrough/blob/master/GBT/README.md) the pipeline identified channels where radio emission was seen for each target (referred to as “hits”). The pipeline produced millions of hits for the sample as a whole, of which the vast majority are almost certainly radio frequency interference from human technology. Eleven events rose above the pipeline threshold for significance, but further detailed analysis indicates that it is unlikely that any of these signals originate from artificial extraterrestrial sources.
For each star sample, the team searched through the entire database of events, looking for radio channels where events occurred only at one or a small handful of positions on the sky. While these stars have unique radio “fingerprints”, this is by no means convincing evidence that they host planets inhabited by extraterrestrial civilizations. However, the search for signals that are localized on the sky and appear unusual in some way provides an excellent way to select promising targets for follow-up observations.
The BSRC team continues to develop more and more sophisticated algorithms, and plans to release updated analyses of Listen data approximately once every six months. The Berkeley team also seeks continued and expanded engagement with signal processing and machine learning experts to help mine the Breakthrough Listen dataset in the search for evidence of signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
Project Leadership

http://breakthroughinitiatives.org/News/10

Offline Star One

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Re: Breakthrough Starshot
« Reply #150 on: 04/24/2017 06:42 PM »
Round up of news from the recent Breakthrough conference.

http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=37548

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