Author Topic: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions  (Read 29827 times)

Offline publiusr

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #80 on: 02/03/2007 08:11 PM »
There is never going to be a hyperdrive.

My idea for interstellar craft. A staged design. You have a Sea Dragon launched NSWR with the mix completed only on orbit. The rugged craft accelerates, at this time an nuclear electric vehicle detaches at very high speeds.

Offline mong'

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #81 on: 02/03/2007 09:44 PM »
and this gets us to other stars how ?
NSWR for all its merits can "only" accelerate a practical spacecraft to 150-200 km/s
and nuclear electric ? pushing material science and engineering you can expect at most, a mass fraction of 8(and that's really pushing it), at VASIMR maximum efficiency that gives you 600 km/s.
800 km/s isn't exactly interstellar velocity, unless you don't mind waiting 1600 years to get to the nearest star.

the best thing science can give us is approximately 50% the speed of light with terawatt lasers and a huge focusing lens at jupiter pointed at an enormous light sail.
the only thing we can do now for interstellar flight is pray that a more complete understanding of the physical laws reveals us a way to travel at or even beyond the speed of light, unfortunately this kind of discovery is even less predictable than congressionnal hearings...


Offline TyMoore

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #82 on: 02/04/2007 03:26 AM »
...on the other hand, no such device or concept will be 'discovered' until someone invents it. Just because others say it is impossible, does not make it so. It simply means that it probably is impossible, but I too hold out hope for that 1 in a million, 1 in a billion, or 1 in a trillion chance that somebody, somewhere will find a way...

Look at the hornet's nest that Miguel Alcubier created when he published his "The Warp Drive: Hyperfast Travel within the Context of General-Relativity." This stunning work--which created a lot of excitement on both sides of the fence--illustrated the possibilities that may in fact be available when one tries "Metric Engineering," the idea of working Einstein's field equations backwards. Of course nobody can do it yet, and nobody really knows what 'negative energy' is (physicists do not really know what energy is for that matter too!) but there are intruiging possibilities. Quantum vacuum energy may be the answer...who knows. But I do know that nobody had any kind of incling how it could be really done until Miguel pointed the way. And THAT was pretty exciting!

Another intruiging possibility involving antimatter propulsion is this: it may be possible to use antimatter for propulsion but without the need to store it. Huh? How can that be? Am I daft!?

Some who know me would argue "yes," but I digress!

Stephen Hawking showed several decades ago that blackholes may behave like thermal blackbodies: they emit radiation and have a temperature, which relates the Heisenburg uncertainty relation to the surface area of a black hole.  Looking at quantum vacuum fluctuations--the vacuum is infact not empty, but at a Planck scale (say 10^-35 meters) the vacuum is a seething sea of virtual particles and antiparticles. Space is not empty, but is in fact composed of these little things flitting almost to the virge of existance and then vanishing without a trace except for minute vibrations in local electromagnetic fields. The quantum vacuum is a very real effect and happens everyday in ordinary things: it rears its ugly head in the minimum static noise from audio amplifiers; it manifests itself as a force between electrically conducting plates set next to each other--even if the plates are shorted together (Cassimer Force;) and it may create the van derWaal's forces that cause hydrogen bonding which is essential to protein folding, which is essential to me typing this here and now, and you the reader...

This quantum vacuum must also exist near the event horizon of a black hole. What happens if one half of a pair of virtual particles is swallowed by a black hole? Well, mostly nothing, especially if the hole is really massive. Chances are good, really good if the hole is massive, that it will go ahead and swallow the other particle too. In that case, nature's account balances--no harm done. But what happens if the black hole is really small and only one half of a virtual pair is swallowed? The escapee has no antipartner to annhilate with. What then? Its existance is promoted from virtual to real--it appears as though the black hole has just lost some of its mass and energy. How can that be? Nothing, not even light can escape from a black hole! Right? Well, quantum physics does in fact suggest that mass and energy can 'tunnel out' by this process, just like electrons can tunnel through a nonconductive barrier to reach the other electrode (ever hear of Field-Effect Transistors, or Tunnel Junction Diodes?) Well if a blackhole can swallow a virtual antiparticle (causing a 'real' particle to escape) in can just as easily swallow the particle part (allowing an antiparticle to escape.) All other things being equal, a neutral charge black hole ought to radiate as much antimatter as matter! Ergo, the radiated products of a decaying blackhole ought to be almost entirely equal parts matter and antimatter--which can be annhilated into pions and kayons which decay into gamma-rays in the proton-antiproton case. Positrons and electrons--which should be the predominant ejecta from a decaying blackhole I'd think--annhilate to forma 511KeV gamma rays. Another interesting thing about black holes is that they are made up of mass--usually from matter--yet they reradiate that mass in equal parts matter and antimatter. I suspect that micro blackholes, if they exist, and if Hawking's theory of blackholes is correct in that they can decay or evaporate, then blackholes are the means to convert matter into energy with almost 100% efficiency!  If the hole is small enough (say no more than a few milligrams in mass) then this energy release ought to be enough heat some kind of working fluid nearby to high temperatures--say powdered lunar regolith heated to a million degrees or so!

So this all begs the question: does anyone know how to make really small blackholes?

The RHIC (relativistic heavy ion collider) folks might!






Offline mong'

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #83 on: 02/04/2007 11:04 AM »
Quote
TyMoore - 4/2/2007  5:26 AM



Look at the hornet's nest that Miguel Alcubier created when he published his "The Warp Drive: Hyperfast Travel within the Context of General-Relativity." This stunning work--which created a lot of excitement on both sides of the fence--illustrated the possibilities that may in fact be available when one tries "Metric Engineering," the idea of working Einstein's field equations backwards. Of course nobody can do it yet, and nobody really knows what 'negative energy' is (physicists do not really know what energy is for that matter too!) but there are intruiging possibilities. Quantum vacuum energy may be the answer...who knows. But I do know that nobody had any kind of incling how it could be really done until Miguel pointed the way. And THAT was pretty exciting!



agreed, what Alcubierre did was really significant in that he showed that it might just be possible with existing theories. I highly doubt his warp drive metric can translate into a useful propulsion system one day but still, he showed that it could be investigated in a rigorous scientific maner, and this might be the next best thing to an actual warp drive !

(highly speculative mode on)

for what could actually give us some kind of "warp drive", I really can't say. research on the zero point field and its possible connection to inertia is interesting, the extended heim theory seems promising (and testable) and various strange quantum effects that have the benefit of working with established theories.
still I suspect it will come from a totally unexpected reasearch area that wasn't looking for that in the first place, after all Newton was teaking a break when he saw the apple fall....

for those of you who are still hopeful here are some things to keep an eye on :

gravity probe B and its test of gravitomagnetism (or frame dragging). results should be published in april
UC berkeley testing of the heim theory, results should arrive this year
LHC, should be operationnal by november. some exciting discoveries may await us at those collision energies

(highly speculative mode off)

Offline scienceguy

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #84 on: 02/04/2007 05:36 PM »
You know how waves of longer wavelength are excluded from existing between plates really close together (Casimir Effect)? This creates a negative energy density which could be used for a warp drive were not the energy inputted from the material that makes up the plates more energy than the negative energy you get by the Casimir Effect.

Would it be possible to use Landau damping to make EVERY wave that pops in and out of existence between the plates in the Casimir Effect too big to exist between the plates? This would increase the negative energy density between the plates. As it is, there are SOME waves that pop into existence between Casimir plates that can exist there because they have a wavelength smaller than the distance between the plates.
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Offline texas_space

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #85 on: 02/04/2007 09:30 PM »
Quote
scienceguy - 3/2/2007  11:43 AM

Thank you for that thorough explanation. I see that it is improbable that we will be traveling to epsilon eridani with antimatter engines anytime soon.

I am beginning to see that space travel is very difficult. We may just have to be satisfied with 6 people going to Mars in 30 years, unless something incredible happens, like Heim's hyperdrive working.

The solar system is a big place to explore...no need to worry about going to other stars just yet.  We couldn't finish exploration of even the Moon and Mars in 100 years.  Besides, we're still stuck in Earth orbit at the moment. :(
"We went to the moon nine times. Why fake it nine times, if we faked it?" - Charlie Duke

Offline TyMoore

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #86 on: 02/05/2007 12:49 AM »
Landau Damping is predominantly a plasma phenomenon--i.e., waves can be cancelled or 'damped' because the interaction time is long enough for damping to occur...however in a quantum vacuum case, in some ways it is like a plasma, in most otherways, it is like a field of 'ghosts,' i.e., the existance is so fleeting that they never exceed the Planck Time which is defined to be the time it takes for light to travel one Planck Length: something on the order of 10^-44 sec. This is such a brief time that the virtual energies involved in the fields can actually far surpass nucleonic energy densities even in the core of a neurton star. The seething sea of interacting fields and virtual particles actually defines the 'ground state' or the minimum energy of the vacuum, and it is the presence of this 'zero point field' which causes Brownian Motion--the well known random wiggle that all particles seem to feel even though no external electromagnetic field may be present.

The only way to 'damp' some of these modes is by partitioning the vacuum into little boxes. I had an interesting idea many years ago for using integrated circuit manufactuing techniques to create a Cassimir Box out of a small block of silicon and coat the insides of the little boxes with something conductive like gold. If quantum vacuum mode suppression works, then the vacuum inside each little box should be in a lower energy state than vacuum outside of the box. Stacking millions of these tiny boxes which measure no more than 100 nm on a side into something like a cube should result in an anomlously low bulk density. This anomolously low density would be hard to measure, but should scale with the fourth power length of the dimension of each small box.

Another interesting possibility is that vacuum field mode suppression may play a suprising role in the way catalysts like platinum do their chemical 'magic.'


Enough speculative physics for now...

On the size of the solarsystem--it is huge. And even if suddenly we had the ability to pretty much rove at will, it would take us many, many decades to thoroughly explore our nearest neighbors: the moon and Mars. Look how long it took to fully explore our own world. I remember reading that there were a surprising number of maps that needed revision once the first satellites and manned spacecraft flew. Taking pictures of continents from space resulted in more accurate geographical information. So in essence the exploration of earth wasn't complete until the first spacecraft flew--and it still isn't complete now!

Exploration of the asteroids, moons of Jupiter, Jupiter itself, and the dozens of satellites of Saturn alone will occupy humanity for some time. And this all will be practice for when we do try the 'Big Jump' between stars.



Offline scienceguy

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #87 on: 02/05/2007 01:31 AM »
Indeed. Many good points. I sort of explore space by myself from my computer when I see NASA images like those from the MERs or Cassini.

Exploring the solar system will keep us busy for a while. I hope to keep getting the latest pictures from space. Maybe one day space tourism will be at the point where people can pay to go to Mars. And who knows? We may find life on Mars or Europa.
e^(pi*i) = -1

Offline lambda0

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #88 on: 02/05/2007 07:53 AM »

Some natural sources of antimatter and how to mine it :
"Extraction of antiparticles concentrated in planetary magnetic fields"
http://www.niac.usra.edu/files/studies/final_report/1071Bickford.pdf

It is also interesting to note that even an artificial production process of antiprotons can be much more efficient in earth orbit than in earth based particles accelerators...


Offline TyMoore

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #89 on: 02/05/2007 03:52 PM »
This link as are all other links that I can find seem to be either stale or they have been pulled. Is there another source for this paper--it sounds very interesting!


Offline lambda0

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #90 on: 02/05/2007 04:48 PM »

Sorry for the dead link. I have the pdf file on another computer, I'll copy it to a server and give a new address tomorrow.
To summarize : this document describes several natural sources of antimatter. The idea is that cosmic rays interactions with the atmosphere of planets generates antineutrons that decay to antiprotons. If the planet has a magnetic field, some of those antiprotons remains trapped in the magnetosphere, and it may be possible to harvest them with a magnetic field created by an induction loop.
Cosmic rays also contains native antiprotons that may be trapped.
Another possibility is to use the magnetic field of the earth to help trapping antiprotons generated by an orbital based particles accelerator.





Offline missinglink

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #91 on: 02/06/2007 12:26 PM »
Many thanks to all the contributors in this thread, I am learning so much just from reading and it is totally exciting stuff, including the hard physical limitations that circumscribe flights of fancy.

With regards to the sentiment that we have plenty of time to explore the solar system before moving on to the stars, I wonder if that is really so... Some people believe that our "window of opportunity" for taking to the stars will only stay open for so long before it closes and we are doomed to living out a dark ages throwback type of existence on a planet depleted of resources and ravaged by nuclear wars.

Cf. Richard Gott's Doomsday Theory and the Fermi paradox.

Offline lambda0

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RE: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #92 on: 02/06/2007 03:37 PM »
I didn't yet found a storage space for the previous document, but here is another interesting document about the quantities of antimatter required for various kinds propulsions.

"Antimatter production for near term propulsion applications", NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
http://www.engr.psu.edu/antimatter/Papers/NASA_anti.pdf

Interplanetary travels would require micrograms to milligrams of antimatter, which seams to be a realistic extrapolation. Interstellar travels might be also be possible, but the required quantities may be unrealistic.
Although a "pure" antimatter propulsion would enable to accelerate to 40% of light velocity, and reach Alpha Centauri in less than 15 years, this would require unrealistic quantities of antimatter : kilograms, even tons !
A far better way to use antimatter for propulsion is for triggering nuclear fusion : required quantities are much smaller, and it may be possible to reach a few percents of the light velocity with this kind of propulsion.
Some other ideas have emerged for a few years, for example, a study of Pbar technology indicates that antiprotons-induced fission could enable the design of a few kg probe that could be accelerated to 10% of the light velocity, and reach Alpha Centauri in less than 50 years, by using 20 grams of antihydrogen.

"Antimatter propulsion" is a generic expression that describes half a dozen systems, with very different performances and also with very different technical requirements : a thermal antimatter propulsion, based on the annihilation of positrons that would heat a fluid, could be build with current or near term technology, in fact, the thruster itself doesn't seem to be more complicated than a nuclear thermal propulsion, but it would never reach the velocities required for interstellar travels.
At the opposite, the pure antimatter propulsion ("beamed core") could even reach relativist velocities, and enable "fast" interstellar travels, but it may remain forever unfeasible, because of huge technical challenges (how to shield GW of 100 MeV gamma rays?) and antimatter requirements.
This document also describes mostly systems that use antiprotons, that are much more difficult to produce than positrons.

Fast interstellar travels are very speculative, even with antimatter, but the quantities of antimatter required for fast travels inside the solar system seems to be realistic, even within a 50 years time frame : a few milligrams of antiprotons, used to trigger inertial nuclear fusion would be enough to send a 100 tons payload to Jupiter or Saturn in a few months instead of years...


Offline lambda0

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #93 on: 02/07/2007 08:02 AM »

Here is the document about natural sources of antimatter :
http://myfreefilehosting.com/f/c3616ab217_3.6MB
Or :
http://d2.filesfly.com/d2/1071Bickford.pdf
"Extraction of antiparticles concentrated in planetary magnetic fields"
NIAC Phase 1 final report

The quantity of antiprotons generated by the decay of secondary antineutrons is quite small for the Earth : less than 15 ng, which is not so much higher than the annual production of the Fermilab. However, the direct flux of antiprotons contained in the GCR is much more important : 4 grams per year through Earth magnetosphere. And the magnetosphere of Jupiter collects each year more than 9 kg of antiprotons !!
The other possibility is artificial production in space : as the capture can be much more efficient than on Earth-based particles accelerators, a space-based accelerator with a 1 GW power plant could produce almost 100 mg/year of antiprotons...


Offline publiusr

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #94 on: 02/07/2007 08:05 PM »
I think the problem is separating them from other particles...

Offline lambda0

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #95 on: 02/08/2007 09:40 AM »

Ions contained in galactic cosmic rays have a positive charge, antiprotons are negative, they are deflected in a different direction by a magnetic field.
Electrons are also negative, but they have a very different mass and their trajectory in a magnetic field has a much smaller radius (for an equivalent velocity).



Offline scienceguy

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #96 on: 02/09/2007 02:58 AM »
Quote
mong' - 4/2/2007  5:04 AM

(highly speculative mode on)

for what could actually give us some kind of "warp drive", I really can't say. research on the zero point field and its possible connection to inertia is interesting, the extended heim theory seems promising (and testable) and various strange quantum effects that have the benefit of working with established theories.
still I suspect it will come from a totally unexpected reasearch area that wasn't looking for that in the first place, after all Newton was teaking a break when he saw the apple fall....

for those of you who are still hopeful here are some things to keep an eye on :

gravity probe B and its test of gravitomagnetism (or frame dragging). results should be published in april
UC berkeley testing of the heim theory, results should arrive this year
LHC, should be operationnal by november. some exciting discoveries may await us at those collision energies

(highly speculative mode off)

mong', do you happen to know what month this year UC Berkeley will have results for heim theory?
e^(pi*i) = -1

Offline mong'

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Re: New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions
« Reply #97 on: 02/09/2007 11:08 AM »
I'm afraid not, all I know is that there's a group investigating some of the claims, I don't know how, I don't know who, and I don't know when the results are expected. I heard second hand rumors that it should be out by the beginning of the year (around march/april) but it's just a second hand rumor, nothing more.

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