Plasma beam for 90-day Mars visit

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by iGav, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Nov 1, 2001
    I was starting to wonder about their plan until this:

    I can see it now..."Houston, we have a problem...." :p

    They'd have to have redundant systems in order to ensure this would work without problems.

    Also, what about the physics here: Newton's 3rd Law - For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    You have a space station in geostationary orbit, constantly re-aiming its particle beam to hit the solar sails (the earth is constantly moving and hope the moon doesn't ever get in the way). But what do you use to keep the space station in this orbit if its constantly shooting a beam? It might be better to set up a couple on the moon...but then what do you do about when you get to Mars?

    Cool stuff, regardless...might work better in probes to other planets that don't need to return.

  2. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    It will be interesting to see how the 12 projects turn out. When it comes to research it would seem that six months is a short amount of time. I wonder how many project will be eligible for the $400,000 and an additional two years of research. The two year time frame makes more sense.
  3. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    This surprises me - I'd assume they could use gravitational braking. In fact, I can't see why they couldn't, unless it'd require them to dip so near to Mars that they'd enter the atmosphere (and at too great a speed for aerobraking to work).

    As you said, you could put it on the moon - or just have the space station shoot an equal beam in the opposite direction, keeping the station unaffected but propelling the craft just fine (albeit at twice the "cost").
  4. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    I think the whole proposal is fascinating... like the real "hypertravel" around our solar system using nuclear powered hyper-propulsion systems. The fact that some of these units would use nuclear power makes me wonder how they could be re-energized and where all the waste would go. And what would happen if one of these units went down? You could potentially float through space forever... unless you had traditional solid/liquid propulsion systems as "brakes".
  5. mvc macrumors 6502a


    Jul 11, 2003
    Sod all atmosphere on Mars, aerobraking something doing this speed would probably be impossible, it would never go into orbit around mars, just skim off and leave the solar system at that speed

    Depends on the mass of the space plasma beam station vs the Mars Spaceship. And since to power this sucker would require either the worlds biggest nuke powerplant, or a massive solar array, the station will undoubtedly be much more massive than the spaceship. So at worst it would just end up in a higher orbit.

    Or they could simply stagger the propulsion so that on one side of earths orbit the space station accelerates, and on the other side it brakes.

    And they don't really need another propulsion unit on Mars, just a large plasma "mirror" to bounce the beam back at the Mars ship to provide reverse thrust.

    So what's a plasma mirror look like... :p
  6. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    Exactly what I was thinking Mr. A. If the station were to shoot a beam of matter, then that would push the station in the opposite direction. Doesn't it just make sense to shoot the beam or something from the ship itself? It must have something to do with these 'solar winds' which I havn't studied much, but I believe they probably fall off just like normal luminous intensity, so if mars is 1/2 an AU farther then the sun, the solar winds should only be 1/2 as powerful. And in the same regards, if the winds are going away from the sun, how do they use them to come back home? Do you suppose you could 'sail' at 45º into it and just go back and forth like a boat?
  7. KingSleaze macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2004
    So. Cal
    Further reading on solar sails and mirrors can be found in a set of science fiction novels by Robert L. Forward. 'Rocheworld' and 'Return to Rocheworld'. Pardon me, but it's been a long time since I've read them and can't find them readily in my collection.

    Several versions of nuclear propulsion have already been flown, by both US and Russian space programs. The Apollo program used radio-isotopic thermal generators to provide power for the lunar science packages. A Russian reactor crash landed in Canada some years back also.

    Solar wind strength at 1.5 AU is less than half as strong as at 1 AU. 4/9ths as strong by inverse square law.
  8. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Maybe I'm the wrong type of Physics major (Medical Physics), but what's a "plasma" beam, and how would firing a beam at a sail not be dangerous for people in the craft? Surely at such high energies, even the sail could be a source of radiation, along with charged particles from the Sun that also prove dangerous. And if not, a big ass, 32 m wide plasma beam being fired at them may be dangerous, y'know? ;)
  9. frozenstar macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2003
    There's another issue. Traveling at speeds in excess of 11km/sec demands the avoidance of any objects suspended in space. Even a small pebble is likely to do severe damage to a carbon-fiber hull at 11km/sec. You'd need extremely accurate sensor systems to detect objects in the path of the spacecraft, and you'd need extremely accurate bursters to make precise trajectory adjustments in very short periods of time.

Share This Page