Why are we limiting ourselves to our solar system?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by SeekerOfTruth, Feb 21, 2002.

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  1. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

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    Does anyone know why we are limiting our space probes to interplanatary ones?

    I think the recent use of an ion engine opens up the possibility of sending a probe far outside our solar system, maybe even to another star.

    Yes, it would take a long time, many generations in fact, but just look at what data the Pioneer probes have already gathered and think of what we might learn if we tried to build a spacecraft designed to go to another star?
     
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  3. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

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    Well, an interstellar probe. It wanders off to maybe Proxima Centauri, maybe takes ten years (if we have some really groovy engine in it). Maybe then takes 3 years or so for any reports to come back. Nobody providing funding wants to dish out the cash for something that far ahead with so little results expected. What can they learn? The money people probably think all they can learn is stuff they already suspect from their theories. And what if they find life, even a civilisation? Nobody is ready for that. Well, mayb you and I are, but our governments are not prepared to deal with the consequences here. Too much bother for them, basically. Much better (in their view) to explore nearer to home and prepare the way for commercial and industrial exploitation of our own system.
     
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  5. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    Currently, there are four "interstellar" probes -- spacecraft traveling fast enough to fully escape the sun's gravitational grasp: Pioneers 10 & 11 and Voyagers 1 & 2.

    None of them is a true interstellar probe because their missions are spatially and technically solar-system specific. The farther from the solar system they travel the less information they can provide.

    Constructing practical interstellar probes is yet too expensive.

    To launch high velocity, long-lasting, high-power transmitting, discriminating & sensitive receiving spacecraft communication instruments toward the stars using currently available chemical rocket propulsion systems would require not including scientific instrumentation.

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  7. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

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    SeekerOfTruth ...

    Re. "Does anyone know why we are limiting our space probes
    to interplanatary ones?


    We aren't, we haven't.

    Check out: Voyager 1 & 2 and Pioneer 10 & 11.

    Take care

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  8. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    All good spacecraft designs incorporate repeated redundancies.

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  9. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

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    And almost instantaneous 'switch-over'

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    Take care.
     
  10. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

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    Re: SeekerOfTruth ...

    Chagur,

    Those probes were interplanatary in mission. As Mr. G. mentions, they were not designed to transmit information from beyond our solar system with any reliability.

    Why don't we design just one with a specific mission to attempt to travel to another star?

    For propulsion, why not use some of the more outlandish ideas NASA is currently pursuing?
     
  11. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

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    SeekOfTruth ...

    While their primary missions were interplanetary, their missions (if they
    survived) were intended to go beyond the Solar system.

    Why else would they include an attempt at extraterrestial communication?

    Take care

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  12. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    The "mission" is best defined as producing near-term return on investment: information relevent to the mission designers, not their evolutionary distant cousins.

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  13. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

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    We are still in the infancy of our space exploration. While knowing what is at and in the area of other star systems would be invaluable, we are just not ready to do so. We lack the technology, expertise, and knowledge to pull this off in a reasonable time frame.

    As was noted in the Pioneer 10 post, there are still many suprises waiting for us to find before we are ready to send probes on such distant voyages.

    We must take the small steps before we are ready for the marathon.
     
  14. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

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    We have never launched an interstellar probe. We have launched interplanetary probes which have been left to wander off in whatever direction they were going when their jobs were completed. They will take tens of thousands of years to go nowhere.
     
  15. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

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    Oh well ...

    Mr. G

    Picky, picky, picky ...

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    So why does JPL/NASA refer to Voyager's 'Interstellar Mission'?

    See: http://vraptor.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/voyager.html

    Adam

    To the contrary. Pioneer 10 is headed towards the constellation Taurus
    and Pioneer 11 is headed towards the constellation Sagittarius, both in-
    tentionally.

    Voyager 1 & 2 are headed in the general direction of the Solar Apex as
    part of their missions.

    "Passage through the heliopause begins the interstellar exploration
    phase with the spacecraft operating in an interstellar wind dominated
    environment. This interstellar exploration is the ultimate goal of the
    Voyager Interstellar Mission."

    See: http://vraptor.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/voyager.html

    Take care all

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  16. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    Chagur,

    You mean, why does the NASA public-relations department refer to the Voyagers' missions as being "Interstellar Missions".

    The Voyagers' primary missions were to survey the gas giant planets, if they could. Then the Heliopause, if they could.

    The "intersteller" (beyond the heliopause) component of the Voyagers -- the plaques - was added because they would permit some sort of secondary success potential to be claimed even if the primary missions were to fail.

    Now, you might say that the secondary "plaque" missions are more than simple PR. Are they? The chance of the plaques actually fulfilling their intended purpose is not too much different than the chance of their not succeding at all -- making their PR value the principle motivation of NASA managing budgeteers.

    Don't get me wrong. I support the PR-value mission component wholeheartedly. I think it was masterful.

    (By the by, I was visiting JPL the day of voyager II's Saturn flyby. I was in the auditorium with the Press to see the mission almost upstaged by ABC's Jules Bergman going ballistic because some other journalist was sitting in his assigned seat.

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    . I also met Pluto's discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, that day, too.)
     
  17. Thirty Seven Baron von "Guns N' Roses" Registered Senior Member

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    I dunno, it would prob cost a s*** load of money
     
  18. ScotiaB Registered Member

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    Just further support wet1's prior post:

    "You must learn to crawl before you can walk"

    We can't even get to the end of our solar system in less than a decade or probably more. If we launched one now, the odds will be that we will develop faster ways of travel which will eventually surpass a probe which we send now.

    To clarify:

    Lets say our probe goes 100 km/h. It is out there for 100 years.

    In a hundred years we learn to go 100 000 km/s. The first probe has not even neared its mark, while our second one can surpass it in less than a year making the first one a waste of money -- money needed in many other areas.


    These figures are not to scale but they can get the point across. That is my take on it anyway.
     
  19. Red Devil Born Again Athiest Registered Senior Member

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    Simple Equation

    Time=Money=Humans = does not equate!

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