Author Topic: Design a mission to Proxima b  (Read 16483 times)

Offline Star One

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Design a mission to Proxima b
« on: 08/24/2016 05:17 PM »
Just how would you get to Proxima b using existing or possible technology in the next twenty to third years for an unmanned mission.
« Last Edit: 08/24/2016 05:18 PM by Star One »

Online Hauerg

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #1 on: 08/24/2016 05:31 PM »
Just how would you get to Proxima b using existing or possible technology in the next twenty to third years for an unmanned mission.

I would start with a workgroup evaluating what kind of telescopes are possible in 50, 100, 200 years, whatever the mission timelines might be for interstellar probes.

Then younwould have to find a mix of instrument and propoulsion capabilities that can beat those future scopes.
Might be hard.

Offline Star One

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Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #2 on: 08/24/2016 05:35 PM »
It's not a straight line target as well, isn't Proxima Centauri at a fair old inclination to the Solar System?
« Last Edit: 08/24/2016 05:35 PM by Star One »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #3 on: 08/24/2016 05:48 PM »
Two basic near-term options:

Nuclear pulse propulsion, like Project Orion / Daedalus / Longshot / Icarus, etc.

or Solar sail, possibly microwave or laser powered, like Starwisp / Dragonfly / Breakthrough Starshot, etc.

There are a few others, but they either require hefty amounts of new technology development or massive in-space construction efforts, or they have unsolved engineering challenges.

I agree with Hauerg that your better bet is to work on building a big telescope.
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Offline Archibald

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #4 on: 08/24/2016 05:51 PM »
Project Orion is workable with sixty years old technology.
It could reach 10% of the speed of light thus reaching Proxima centauri in 50 years.
but of course politically it is unpalatable.

Offline geza

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #5 on: 08/24/2016 05:55 PM »
It's not a straight line target as well, isn't Proxima Centauri at a fair old inclination to the Solar System?
If you want to reach Proxima Centauri within a few centuries, then you need a velocity, which is huge relative to the orbital velocity of Earth (30 km/s). Then, inclination relative to the ecliptic plane is irrelevant. Every trajectory is straight line at such velocities.

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #6 on: 08/24/2016 05:59 PM »
For the short term, something on the order of the Webb Telescope on steroids.

For longer term, microprobes laser accelerated, or, if some goofy wonk makes a break through, the Canne drive.  And a further stretch, the "warp" drive.

   Truth be told, unless some one figures out a way to tap "Vacuum Energy" we really can't generate enough energy for the kind of propulsion and deceleration that would be required for anything much larger than microprobes to get there in a reasonable amount of time.
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Online RonM

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #7 on: 08/24/2016 06:05 PM »
I think a FOCAL telescope at 550 AU is the way to go.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOCAL_(spacecraft)

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #8 on: 08/24/2016 06:09 PM »
Mass beam propulsion.

Unlike laser tech, it's scalable to crewed missions as well (without Singularity-level resources).
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Online Joffan

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #9 on: 08/24/2016 09:16 PM »
So, we want to get there in say 20 years, and presumably drop into orbit around Prox Cen.? Then have enough instruments and transmitting power to gather and relay useful information about the system, particularly about the star, and about A&B Cenatuari, and of course about the planet Proxima b, or whatever it's called by then.

Accelerating and then decelerating about about 0.6m/s/s (ie. about 6%g) seems to be sufficient to cover the distance, ignoring gravity wells. The continuous mass-independent acceleration solution conveniently hits a top speed of about 0.4c which is still "relatively" unaffected by the Lorentz factor.

A higher acceleration at the start and finish (with a long coast) would allow a lower top speed, perhaps desirable to reduce the impact hazards en route (although these are likely worse at the start and end anyway?) 0.25g for a year at start and end would give a top cruising speed of 0.26c.

Not including any considerations of propellant requirements, which is a bit like calculating how fast an elephant can walk across the Atlantic, but gives some initial framework.
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Offline shooter6947

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #10 on: 08/24/2016 09:38 PM »
Just how would you get to Proxima b using existing or possible technology in the next twenty to third years for an unmanned mission.

I hate to make such a strident and depressing pronouncement, but it's just not possible using any current or foreseeable technology to get to Proxima Cen and do anything scientifically useful in the next 20-30 yrs.  Remember that it took a small spacecraft on our (then) largest launch vehicle 10 years to get to Pluto at 40-some-odd AU.  I can't even figure out a way to usefully get to a Planet 9 at 500AU much less Proxima in that kind of timeframe.

So in our lifetimes the only way to learn more is via better remote telescopic observation, barring a fundamental technological breakthrough.

Offline Star One

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #11 on: 08/24/2016 09:57 PM »
Just how would you get to Proxima b using existing or possible technology in the next twenty to third years for an unmanned mission.

I hate to make such a strident and depressing pronouncement, but it's just not possible using any current or foreseeable technology to get to Proxima Cen and do anything scientifically useful in the next 20-30 yrs.  Remember that it took a small spacecraft on our (then) largest launch vehicle 10 years to get to Pluto at 40-some-odd AU.  I can't even figure out a way to usefully get to a Planet 9 at 500AU much less Proxima in that kind of timeframe.

So in our lifetimes the only way to learn more is via better remote telescopic observation, barring a fundamental technological breakthrough.

I was thinking of ideas like Project Starshot.

Offline rdheld

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #12 on: 08/24/2016 10:53 PM »
plenty of time as the planet has not been confirmed.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #13 on: 08/25/2016 02:29 AM »
... in the next 20-30 yrs.... I can't even figure out a way to usefully get to a Planet 9 at 500AU much less Proxima in that kind of timeframe.
...
Deep Oberth burn right by the Sun, leave at ~100-120km/s (perhaps with help from RTG electric propulsion). Enter orbit via aggressive aerocapture (i.e. like a nuclear warhead's level of reentry difficulty, or the Galileo probe at 50km/s). That's the iffy-est part of the plan. Just doing a flyby should be quite doable.

Could get there in 20-30 years.


Still nowhere near interstellar-relevant speeds, but hey, if we don't have the imagination and physics knowledge to get to Planet 910, we definitely aren't going to Proxima b.

But if we all live to 120, then there IS a chance if you have like a trillion dollars.

But a really good telescope at the gravitational focus should give excellent remote sensing of Proxima b!
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Offline CameronD

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #14 on: 08/25/2016 06:28 AM »
But a really good telescope at the gravitational focus should give excellent remote sensing of Proxima b!

If so, why not send a telescope (fitted with a really good data link) at regular speeds?  Hubble might do the trick.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #15 on: 08/25/2016 08:43 AM »
Just how would you get to Proxima b using existing or possible technology in the next twenty to third years for an unmanned mission.
Depends how you split the time up.

Range is about 4LY so assuming your probe is ready to go now you need to get it up to an average speed of about 0.134c. The data will come back at the speed of light (or faster if you have quantum entanglement comm link  :) ) in about 4 years

If you allocated 10 years to do development work  it's more like 0.2c or 60 million m/s.

A system that can maintain 10g of acceleration for about 7 days can do this.  The lightest package will be a flyby mission with no slowing down. Slowing down adds mass and lengthens the mission or raises the starting velocity. Voyager has demonstrated it's possible to design systems that can continue to function after 3 decades en route.

[EDIT the challenge of course is to build a system that can maintain 10g acceleration (Nuclear warheads are designed for 40g and are deployed in fairly large numbers so well within the open SoA). For lowest risk, earliest possible deployment propulsion I'd suggest essentially an SPS. Microwave generation is highly efficient  and PV cells can be made very light thin films or very high efficiency concentrator designs at 43%+. The goal would be concentrated power pointing away from Earth focused on a reflector with sub wavelength holes in it to lighten the design. We know a 200Kw space solar array is in the SoP ]
« Last Edit: 08/25/2016 12:22 PM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #16 on: 08/25/2016 12:08 PM »
But a really good telescope at the gravitational focus should give excellent remote sensing of Proxima b!

If so, why not send a telescope (fitted with a really good data link) at regular speeds?  Hubble might do the trick.
At regular speeds, it'd take about 200 years to get to the focal point. That's why not.
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Offline ThereIWas3

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #17 on: 08/25/2016 12:21 PM »
I think it would be much faster to build a very-long-baseline synthetic aperture telescope on the Moon.
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Offline Star One

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Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #18 on: 08/25/2016 12:21 PM »
Quote
chrislintott ‏@chrislintott
@ChrisInmanDrum @Maker_of_Things In my chat with the discoverers they were thinking of a dedicated mission to state at this star

From the context of the conversation they meant space telescope.

What would have to special about telescope just tasked at staring at Proxima Centauri and nothing else?
« Last Edit: 08/25/2016 12:22 PM by Star One »

Offline scienceguy

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Re: Design a mission to Proxima b
« Reply #19 on: 08/25/2016 04:49 PM »
Wouldn't the James Webb Space Telescope be able to get a picture of this planet? The star is just a red dwarf.
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