Astronomy for all
Thursday January 19th 2012

Intersteller Travel – Story of the week

Each week I select a paper from my news feed which I liked the most. This one just caught my imagination! Thinking hard about interstellar travel using existing or feasible technology.

Artists Impression: Approaching Bernard's Star

Artists Impression: Approaching Bernard's Star

I’d love to see a craft sent to another star within a lifetime.  NASA may not have anything planned but the following article discusses the recent Icarus Project Symposium which was focused on  updating the work of the  ”Daedalus” study which was completed by the  British Interplanetary Society (BIS) back in the late 1970′s. Daedalus aimed to design an interstellar probe for a flyby mission to Barnard’s Star.

Icarus reviews and updates the findings of the Daedalus to bring it in line with our current technology.  The project is required to discuss issues such as propulsion, onboard power and computing, whether the craft should slowdown at the target or not and clarify the terms of reference.

To the best of my knowledge we are not aware of any planets around Bernard’s Star, and if they exist, its not likely be Earth type planets, which is unfortunate. There are plenty of eyes on the star system however, and it is included as a target for the under construction NASA (SIM) Space Interferometry Mission project. SIM has a mission, among other things, to find Earth type planets.

I’ll leave you with a summary of the terms of reference and links to both the article by Pat Galea and the Project Icarus site itself.  I really enjoyed the article.

The Terms of Reference are as follows:

  • To design an unmanned probe that is capable of delivering useful scientific data about the target star, associated planetary bodies, solar environment and the interstellar medium.
  • The spacecraft must use current or near future technology and be designed to be launched as soon as is credibly determined.
  • The spacecraft must reach its stellar destination within as fast a time as possible, not exceeding a century and ideally much sooner.
  • The spacecraft must be designed to allow for a variety of target stars.
  • The spacecraft propulsion must be mainly fusion based (i.e. Daedalus).
  • The spacecraft mission must be designed so as to allow some deceleration for increased encounter time at the destination.
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    One Response to “Intersteller Travel – Story of the week”

    1. riklaunim says:

      Spacetime bending propulsion needed :)

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