Author Topic: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?  (Read 15796 times)

Offline as58

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #20 on: 11/26/2011 09:03 AM »
Were TPF & SIM victims of JWST or was the technology not quite there or what?
What a cool area of astronomy to have the plug pulled.

One could probably say that JWST costs contributed to the cancellation of the SIM. On the other hand TPF concepts (especially the interferometer) were quite ambitious and I'm not sure if the technology was ready. In any case the TPF missions would have been very expensive.

Offline spaceStalker

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #21 on: 11/26/2011 09:55 AM »
If you go to nearest star with convenient speed, let say you are covering the distance in 2 years. How do you actually communicate with that ship?
To moon you have few seconds delay, to Mars what.. 20 min to and from?
On the span of 4,2LY how do you actually communicate with the ship,its crew, daddy call home?


Offline pierre

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #22 on: 11/26/2011 11:07 AM »
If you go to nearest star with convenient speed, let say you are covering the distance in 2 years.

The nearest star is enormously much farther away than you imagine.

2 years is impossible, at a distance of 4.2 light-years even the light takes 4.2 years and we are very, very far from even being able to reach 1/1000 of the speed of light.

So if you want a ballpark number to reason about, start with 2,000 years, not 2.

On the span of 4,2LY how do you actually communicate with the ship,its crew, daddy call home?

You don't.

There will be no ship and no crew.

The only vaguely realistic way to get there with near-future tech is to have a payload of only a few kilograms. I.e. science sensors, computer and communication instruments.

Any civilization able to send probes to nearby stars will likely have decent artificial intelligence anyway, so there would be no 2-way communication (the probe zips through the target star system so quickly that there's no time for that; remember: the probe cannot decelerate at destination or enter any kind of orbit), just a download over several decades of the data collected.

Please see the links posted by others, they're very informative.

The short version is that if we want information about nearby systems our best shot in this century (and possibly for much longer) is using huge swarms of telescopes, not sending stuff there.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #23 on: 11/26/2011 02:43 PM »
Quote
What are the chances of a flagship mission in the 2030's to either Proxima Centauri ...

Between slim and fat.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline majormajor42

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #24 on: 11/26/2011 04:27 PM »
considering the pace of remote sensing developments, why would we spend money on sending something that would take generations to reach its target? Just looking at the pace of exo-planet discoveries makes me extremely optimistic about new discoveries. 15-20 years ago we discovered the first one and now we know of hundreds. Now that we are or very close to finding or confirming the first Goldilocks planets, in another 15-20 years I think we will know of many of them as well. By that point, perhaps the 2030 date that was mentioned, we may be learning all sorts of new exciting things about these planets. I would really rather spend money on gaining these sorts of results, that can be analyzed by today's scientists.

Even if we gained the propulsion technology to do an interstellar mission that would take generations, I agree with others here who have said that those latter generations may leap-frog our technology.

We can look forward to lower launch costs hopefully leading to more advances of and applications for faster spacecraft that will further explore our solar system. There will be fascinating missions to Kuiper belt objects (in addition to New Horizon's possibilities). The desire to minimize radiation exposure on humans flying to Mars (and beyond) may also drive propulsion technologies.

« Last Edit: 11/26/2011 04:29 PM by majormajor42 »
...water is life and it is out there, where we intend to go. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man or machine on a body such as the Moon and harvest a cup of water for a human to drink or process into fuel for their craft.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #25 on: 11/26/2011 04:50 PM »
Just looking at the pace of exo-planet discoveries makes me extremely optimistic about new discoveries. 15-20 years ago we discovered the first one and now we know of hundreds. Now that we are or very close to finding or confirming the first Goldilocks planets, in another 15-20 years I think we will know of many of them as well.
Note that technology does not just advance on its own as time goes by, it actually needs further investments and developments. I don't see a lot of reason to be very sanguine about future discoveries, looking at currently planned observatories.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline majormajor42

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #26 on: 11/26/2011 06:22 PM »
1. Note that technology does not just advance on its own as time goes by, it actually needs further investments and developments.

2. I don't see a lot of reason to be very sanguine about future discoveries, looking at currently planned observatories.

1. duh

2. I am hopeful about lower launch costs in the future. I am thrilled about what Kepler has/will accomplish for $.5 billion. But any current plan of observatories is effected by JWST and the fact that low cost launch is not here yet. Hopefully a temporary condition.
...water is life and it is out there, where we intend to go. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man or machine on a body such as the Moon and harvest a cup of water for a human to drink or process into fuel for their craft.

Offline K-P

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #27 on: 11/26/2011 06:55 PM »
If you go to nearest star with convenient speed, let say you are covering the distance in 2 years.

Yes. 2 years to Sun is reasonable.

Otherwise, LOL.  :D

btw. where is "convenient speed" in this scale?
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ridiculous%20speed
« Last Edit: 11/26/2011 07:04 PM by K-P »

Offline drbobguy

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #28 on: 11/26/2011 07:20 PM »
Although keep in mind 2 years from the perspective of the ship/probe is doable for a distance of 4.2 LY.  That is from the perspective of the ship/probe you can go faster than the speed of light (as viewed from Earth since it looks like your time slows down).  That doesn't violate any physical laws.

Indeed at 1g constant acceleration/deceleration you can go basically anywhere in the Milky Way galaxy within a human lifetime.

But as others have said this is so pie-in-the-sky that there's basically no chance of any of this happening.

Maybe, maybe if you expended trillions of dollars over decades we MIGHT be able to design a probe that could get up to 0.05c or 0.1c or something, and so a 40-50 year mission flyby of proxima centauri with a very small probe could be conceivable.  But as others have said, why? The money could get you more information by putting it into remote sensing.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2011 07:21 PM by drbobguy »

Offline K-P

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #29 on: 11/26/2011 07:33 PM »
Maybe, maybe if you expended trillions of dollars over decades we MIGHT be able to design a probe that could get up to 0.05c or 0.1c or something, and so a 40-50 year mission flyby of proxima centauri with a very small probe could be conceivable.

My 2 cents, on the other hand, are in the possibility that we learn to manipulate time or space or dimensions themselves in an exotic way unknown to us yet, so that we can really travel distances between stars in the far future. (call that the Star Trek way or Babylon 5 way or CERN way whatever...)

In my opinion, the current "tin-can" architecture of space travel has its limits, around Kuiper Belt, I would guess. So, spending time & effort on dreaming interstellar travel with either chemical or nuclear propulsion is similar to dreaming of moon flights with zeppelins.

Just my thoughts...

Offline Khadgars

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #30 on: 11/26/2011 07:59 PM »
I agree there are better ways of searching for planets with telescopes, I was thinking more on the lines of a Voyager 2.0 idea that specifically designed for interplanetary travel with more conventional propulsion that wouldn't break the bank.


Offline drbobguy

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #31 on: 11/26/2011 08:11 PM »
My 2 cents, on the other hand, are in the possibility that we learn to manipulate time or space or dimensions themselves in an exotic way unknown to us yet, so that we can really travel distances between stars in the far future. (call that the Star Trek way or Babylon 5 way or CERN way whatever...)

Yeah, but I think we should always be reminded that modern notions of "technological progress" are laden with a disturbing amount of hubris.  It might be that the basic laws of physics don't allow bending of space and time (except with massive energy/mass wells like black holes) and so we're just SOL in terms of interstellar travel.  There's nothing that says interstellar travel is inevitable or doable.

I personally believe we've gone from an Aristotelian version of the universe where stars are fundamentally unknowable structures created by God on crystalline spheres rotating about the center of the universe (Earth) to a more modern scientific notion over the last half-millenia of what is out there, to wild expectations of where we are going (Star Trek), and finally I believe we are heading back towards the first vision, where maybe we can get some knowledge about the stars but they are fundamentally unknowable and untouchable by human kind for the rest of time.

And while you can point to examples of "we made this work, we made that work" most of the basics of these ideas are very old.  Electromagnetism was worked out 150 years ago, chemical propulsion by rockets a century ago, hell rocket engines themselves haven't substantially improved since the early 1960s (or 1970s at the lastest).  There are no corresponding theories of how FTL travel might actually work that seem plausible in any kind of real way, as for instance, a chemical rocket might have seemed possible to those that understood fireworks and ballistics in the 19th century.

Wild optimism about the future of computers and biology while maybe not completely warranted is at least understandable given current events.  Wild optimism about space travel is not.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2011 08:15 PM by drbobguy »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #32 on: 11/26/2011 08:28 PM »
My 2 cents, on the other hand, are in the possibility that we learn to manipulate time or space or dimensions themselves in an exotic way unknown to us yet, so that we can really travel distances between stars in the far future. (call that the Star Trek way or Babylon 5 way or CERN way whatever...)

Yeah, but I think we should always be reminded that modern notions of "technological progress" are laden with a disturbing amount of hubris.  It might be that the basic laws of physics don't allow bending of space and time (except with massive energy/mass wells like black holes) and so we're just SOL in terms of interstellar travel.  There's nothing that says interstellar travel is inevitable or doable.

I personally believe we've gone from an Aristotelian version of the universe where stars are fundamentally unknowable structures created by God on crystalline spheres rotating about the center of the universe (Earth) to a more modern scientific notion over the last half-millenia of what is out there, to wild expectations of where we are going (Star Trek), and finally I believe we are heading back towards the first vision, where maybe we can get some knowledge about the stars but they are fundamentally unknowable and untouchable by human kind for the rest of time.

And while you can point to examples of "we made this work, we made that work" most of the basics of these ideas are very old.  Electromagnetism was worked out 150 years ago, chemical propulsion by rockets a century ago, hell rocket engines themselves haven't substantially improved since the early 1960s (or 1970s at the lastest).  There are no corresponding theories of how FTL travel might actually work that seem plausible in any kind of real way, as for instance, a chemical rocket might have seemed possible to those that understood fireworks and ballistics in the 19th century.

Wild optimism about the future of computers and biology while maybe not completely warranted is at least understandable given current events.  Wild optimism about space travel is not.

Actually ion rockets are ten times as efficient as chemical rockets and VASIMR can be ten times again.

As for the ground to LEO part chemical propulsion may be the primary means for the near future but propellant is a tiny tiny fraction of the cost.
If we get the flight rates up and develop reusable launch vehicles the cost will come down.

If we absolutely had to travel to the nearest star we can do it with today's technology.
Pulsed fusion can achieve 10% light speed.
BTW this is without staging.
For the cost of the wars in the last 20 years we could build an orion starship.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_%28nuclear_propulsion%29

A low cost unmanned interstellar probe could be the starwisp here the expensive part remains inside the solar system and can be reused for other missions or double as an SPS sat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starwisp
I don't think we can even totally discount FTL travel esp with the findings coming out of CERN.

It's not technology or physics holding us back it's politics.

The worst thing we can do is go back to an Aristotelian vision of the universe that will only lead to extinction.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2011 08:38 PM by Patchouli »

Offline savuporo

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #33 on: 11/26/2011 10:47 PM »
I am hopeful about lower launch costs in the future. I am thrilled about what Kepler has/will accomplish for $.5 billion. But any current plan of observatories is effected by JWST and the fact that low cost launch is not here yet. Hopefully a temporary condition.
I'm not sure how lower launch costs would bring about better observatories. In case of JWST the launch costs are absolutely dwarfed by the total project budget.
There has not exactly been a rush of telescope proposals for F9H either, that is supposed bring about the true era of cheap launch, or something.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline spaceStalker

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #34 on: 11/27/2011 05:46 AM »
I was more interested in how would one communicate with far object like nearest star ( not our Sun ). And more over without delay, or at least acceptable - like 10 mins.
Is there any effort to do high bandwidth, low delay, very deep space communication technology?
Nasa deep space network is primary for communication with it's probes?
What would it take? (no politicians, sls, jwst or health care spelling)


Online david1971

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #35 on: 11/27/2011 06:08 AM »
I was more interested in how would one communicate with far object like nearest star ( not our Sun ). And more over without delay, or at least acceptable - like 10 mins.
Is there any effort to do high bandwidth, low delay, very deep space communication technology?
Nasa deep space network is primary for communication with it's probes?
What would it take? (no politicians, sls, jwst or health care spelling)

It would take a re-writing of the laws of physics.  If you are 4.2 light years away, it will take 4.2 years for signals to come back.  You can't send information faster than the speed of light.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #36 on: 11/27/2011 06:39 AM »
I was more interested in how would one communicate with far object like nearest star ( not our Sun ). And more over without delay, or at least acceptable - like 10 mins.
Is there any effort to do high bandwidth, low delay, very deep space communication technology?
Nasa deep space network is primary for communication with it's probes?
What would it take? (no politicians, sls, jwst or health care spelling)

It would take a re-writing of the laws of physics.  If you are 4.2 light years away, it will take 4.2 years for signals to come back.  You can't send information faster than the speed of light.

Unless you find a way of communicating via entangled particles.

Offline strangequark

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #37 on: 11/27/2011 07:33 AM »
Unless you find a way of communicating via entangled particles.

Entanglement doesn't allow FTL communication. It makes for good SciFi, but the actual theory has been done to death.

Offline Sparky

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #38 on: 11/27/2011 07:35 AM »
Agreed. I should have added that that still qualifies as re-writing physics.

Offline majormajor42

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Re: Flagship mission to Proxima Centauri or Epsilon Eridani?
« Reply #39 on: 11/27/2011 01:36 PM »
I am hopeful about lower launch costs in the future. I am thrilled about what Kepler has/will accomplish for $.5 billion. But any current plan of observatories is effected by JWST and the fact that low cost launch is not here yet. Hopefully a temporary condition.
I'm not sure how lower launch costs would bring about better observatories. In case of JWST the launch costs are absolutely dwarfed by the total project budget.
There has not exactly been a rush of telescope proposals for F9H either, that is supposed bring about the true era of cheap launch, or something.

Define "better" observatories? Clearly I'm a big fan of Kepler. It has been fruitful and relatively inexpensive. Hopefully JWST will produce some mind blowing results as well. But hopefully the lessons of what happened that made JWST cost so much more money will be applied. In the future, perhaps the ratio of Discovery to Flagship missions will change.

There has not been a rush of telescope proposals for FH, nor has there been a rush of any FH proposals for that matter. Still too soon. It hasn't even flown yet nor has the fairing diameter been nailed down from what I was reading in other threads.  And I don't think you'll see much of a rush until JWST is closer to launch and they know exactly how much it will cost. Perhaps by that time, in a few years, we'll also have a better idea about the cost, specifications, and reliability of lower cost rockets.

...water is life and it is out there, where we intend to go. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man or machine on a body such as the Moon and harvest a cup of water for a human to drink or process into fuel for their craft.

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