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Telescope probes and warp track

  1. Apr 16, 2015 #1
    1st tope, in my sci-fi universe let's say there is a warp drive that can power a ship that can travel 10*c.
    One of the first things I have people doing is coming up what is called "The Big Picture Project" which is installing this drive onto probes and sending them out unmanned and have it so they will send a constant stream of data back to Earth as they travel away which allows for creating a 3d map of stars around us...

    #1. How many of these would you send out to do this assuming the probes are constantly moving away from earth in a straight path out? How much redundancy?
    #2. How between inception of the idea to launch do you think this would take?
    #3. Would you have a "command center" to handle the incoming data or just let it run automatically?
    #4. What other benefits do think this would have?
    #5. How long would you design these to work? The current thing I am saying is that they are designed to last 10,000 years.
    #6. What are some names you would give these probes? The 4 I am currently using as their names are, Lippershey, Janssen, Metius, and Galileo.

    2nd topic, in my universe the alcubierre warp thing has been proven and is usable, but has 2 problems, you can't project the field ahead and there is energy particle build up (both of these are talked about as possible issues in the alcubierre drive article on wiki and I'm saying assume the things that are true to make those things true are true) and so for space use it's pretty much a pre-positioned weapon more so than an actual good way to travel. But I had an idea earlier and I was wonder how feasible it might be...

    Instead of using it in space couldn't we use it on Earth? You lay the track, step into some vehicle and you are jetted down some track. The speed with which you'd travel would pretty much make it impossible for there to be an accident. But my question is would this be possible and if so, how dangerous would it be? Also this sounds stupid, but would there be a problem turning? If so that would seem to make it automatically only useful for long straight journeysm but would the curvature of the earth cause issues there?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2015 #2


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    We have a 3 D map of the stars around us. For nearby stars, you can use the motion of earth around the sun. That gives good distance estimates up to a few hundred light years, the space telescope Gaia is collecting data right now and will extend that to tens of thousands of light years - a large fraction of our galaxy. It is possible to get accurate distance estimates for all stars in the galaxy from within our solar system.

    Probes far away would be interesting if you want to directly measure the distances of other galaxies instead of individual stars. There are multiple indirect methods, but a direct measurement is better. Current telescopes can measure distances up to about a billion times the baseline. 2-4 telescopes a few light years away, and with an accuracy a bit better than Gaia, would allow to directly measure the distances of objects everywhere in the observable universe. Gaia will need a few years but you can certainly cut that down with better telescopes.

    You have to compare the direction measurements somewhere.
    Combine the mission with some proper target, like a nearby planetary system, to study it in more detail?
  4. Apr 16, 2015 #3
    What's the price per piece?

    How do you want to command it? You have FTL, so it escapes your signal! :D
    So automatically
    Testng it first in the Sollar System, and get plenty of good photos of dwarf planets?
    First prototypes? If it survive a few years NASA/ESA/whatever would make a big party.
    Who pays for it? (Countries tend to commemorate their own astronomers)

    For story purposes assume that alcubierre warp chocks when not used in vacum.
  5. Apr 16, 2015 #4
    Anyway how do you want to receive your signal?
    Let's say you send it to a star that 10 light years away. The probe arrives in 1 year, makes photos, and:
    -you wait 10 years the signal to arrive Earth
    -according to preprogrammed settings it go back homes and sends you data (so one more year)
  6. Apr 16, 2015 #5
    I have it marked down as $2 billion per, though that's a figure that can change easily.
    The current dates I have are the launch is in 2100.
    In 2085 is when the first interstellar flight takes place using the drive their using.
    Currently the project starts in 2090.

    It seems to me that most craft and projects take about a decade to complete so that's why I set it in 2090.
    I could push the conceptualization and design further back though as the drive that is used is the "commercial" drive where as there are 4 experimental drives that come before it that are slower starting in 2062.

    True. I was thinking more along the lines of simple monitoring of its progress in case there are any problems, handling the data coming in, etc. vs Just streaming it to a database or something similar.

    That doesn't seem like something that it would need a separate thing, More like a systems check as it goes out of the system and then aborting if there is an error.

    I'm not sure how much of a prototype these would really be... I mean all the tech that they'd use is more or less the same tech that is used in the interstellar ship. I suppose there would be tests for how big they can make the telescope and all like that... speaking of What do you think would be a good size or type of telescope to have on these?

    Somewhat hard to answer...
    Parts of the former US and Canada indirectly through an indipendent corporation that builds and owns the patent on all such drives that are used.
    At the time the corporation has been around since 2060s, but has not returned a profit until around 2086 when they've proven that their drive works to the populous which opens up people to investing in space mining, colonizing, etc. So even though nations have a say in the corporation at this time they are quickly losing their power over it and it is so much so that 15 years later one could say that the positions are reversed to an extreme degree.

    Are you saying that is what is thought to happen or are you saying if you don't want it here's an excuse you can use that people might buy.

    I was thinking more along the line of a constant collection of data and transmission. Yes it takes time for the data arrives, but saves on fuel and instead of takeing a single picture where you miss things you'd get a more accurate view of what's happening from a constant stream and less likely to miss things that happened in between pictures.
    Also if we change it to more along what you're saying I would do something like +10 ly per trip and 1 year observation, which leaves us with a 3 year trip, 5, 7, 9, etc until you're waiting centuries for any data at all really and that doesn't seem to useful where as a constant stream that gets progressively slowly (i think) i would think be more useful right?[/quote][/quote]
  7. Apr 17, 2015 #6
    Maybe you should imagine the following scenario. You have a team and a production line. The first probe takes years to complete and test, the second one 2 years, 3rd 1 and half, and so on... you slowly gain expertise. On the other hand your project plan already includes that. If it cost 2 bln each, you can clearly afford that.

    Just back up everything ;)

    An array telescope, constructed out of at least two smaller.

    Anyway, what do you need it for? For far away galaxies it won't help as those few years of difference would not matter. To scan exoplanets?

    Select proper name for Public Relations reasons? Be a total sell off and auction the names of the probes?

    I'm not a physic (I'm on a Ph.D. course in economics). I'm just thinking that condensing space time with matter seems as asking for nuclear explosion. (but you need someone better in that subject for that)

    1) Transport ship + payload of ultra light probes - one is dropped in each system and the ship goes further, you don't need alcubierre drive to slowly map an exoplanet.
    2) Round trip - 10-20 stars and go back home with all photos
    3) Make photos and drop your memory card - probes have preprogrammed and coordinated route. At one system, at preseltected orbit a few drop memory card with homing beacon, just one picks them up and brings all to Earth.

    OK - How heavy is payload of such probe? What are the fuel limitation? (both such answer influence strategy, with heavy load dropping tones of small probes seems as the right way
  8. Apr 17, 2015 #7
    I think you are mistaking something. These aren't going planent by planet. They're just going straight out with the telescope directed towards us. The idea being that we'll be able to get a picture of a much a larger space and that will give us better context for where we are and all that.

    The thing that you're talking about is also being done though with manned ships doing surveys of nearby stars for habitability and minability and just pure curiousity.

    That's not quite an issue with how the drive system works.
    The Drive being used creates a bubble that is 10 meters in diameter.
    The size of the of the drive is 1m x 0.66m x 0.66m.
    It can travel ~25 Light Days per Liter of fuel it has. (Note that the unit I use I call a Lida which is 24Tm which is just shy of 1 Light Day so the exact is amount 25 Lida, but it is roughly equal)
    I did a random guess and said the Fuel it would carry is 100,00 Liters, but now I calculated it and it is 146,097 Liters. That's for operating for 10,000 years.

    As long as there is enough room in those parameters for that then all other room is free. I have no idea what the volumetric size of a 10m diameter sphere is so I can't say and I don't want to look up the equations for it at the moment.
  9. Apr 17, 2015 #8


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    Did you see post #2?

    Accurate, model-independent distance estimates for galaxies all the way back to the early universe would be amazing for cosmology. Exoplanets you can find with telescopes in the solar system.

    Light days in which reference frame, and what is special about that reference frame? If you do not want to violate relativity this is a very tricky question.

    For the optimal time to start the probes, see wait calculation. As a few light years are sufficient, it is probably better to start earlier. Reaching half the speed but starting two or three years earlier would speed up the process.
  10. Apr 17, 2015 #9
    Yes I saw.
    I didn't consider it before but after I read the post and thinking about the probe construction I got to thinking that there needs to be some forward facing optics and there is no reason that also couldn't be a telescope of some sort that could be transmitted back too. So we get a forward and backward constant videostream from these things.

    Ummm what? A Light day is a set distance based on the speed of light in a vacuum. The distance light travels in an "earth" day or roughly 24 hours.
    Are you thinking that I'm speaking of some high fraction of c STL travel, which would make time different on the inside and outside of the ship? That's not the case. These ships use a type of warp drive which keeps the flow of time the same inside and outside the ship.

    Not an issue ^.^ I already know how fast the travel speeds get over time. It isn't until roughly 3000 CE that they're able to do 40*c which at that point to reach the probes it would take them roughly 250 years. Although I have not settled on whether I will be introducing something that will make it possible to travel 400*c as an indipendent ship round that time, but I haven't decided yet. By that time the probes will be 9000 light years out and there will be no reason to over come them or accidentally possible for most ships. Also the 400*c thing would just allow them to catch up, but because of how the tech works all they could do is replace the drive with a 40*c drive and send it off to continue on its way.
  11. Apr 17, 2015 #10


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    You probably want to look in all directions. Hmm, could be tricky while in a warp bubble. I guess you can slow down sometimes to take good pictures.

    I don't see a good argument to take pictures of distant objects from distances much larger than 100 light years. All you can do is get better observations from stars nearby to the probes (a few stars that are very close).

    Edit: Hmm, with superluminal travel there could one. In case you missed something, you can see it again later.
    Pulsar timing to look for gravitational waves could be interesting with a really long baseline.

    Something that looks like a light day for one observer can look like a light second for another. Times and distances are relative. I didn't think of the ship here, but any arbitrary frame outside (does not have to have actual technical objects in to make observations). Why is the speed limit 10 times the speed of light expressed in the reference frame of earth, and not 10 times the speed of light in some other frame? As we know, physics is the same in all those frames.
  12. Apr 17, 2015 #11
    What? That number is the distance the ship can travel on 1 liter of fuel, not the speed of the ship.
    Also the speed of travel is expressec in c even though it isn't quite the case. I am only use c and Light Day for simplicity here. The actual distance is measured in a unit called Lida and is the distance that a ship can move in exactly 86,400 seconds, although it is set at that for another reason not important here. That distance is exactly 24 Tm which is about 2Tm less than a Light day.

    The speed of the ship is that it can travel up to 240Tm per 86,400 seconds and can travel 600Tm with 1 Liter of fuel.
    Increasing and decreasing the speed the ship travels at has no impact on the distance it can travel with the same amount of fuel.
    This means that it can travel 24Tm per 86,400 seconds and still would be able to travel a total of 600Tm on 1 liter of fuel, albeit slower.
  13. Apr 18, 2015 #12


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    But why is this distance measured in the frame of earth? And why is the speed limit in the frame of earth? Why not in a different frame? Spacecrafts are not like cars. This issue is independent of the unit system you use. You break relativity at the most fundamental level here - you introduce a preferred reference frame.
  14. Apr 18, 2015 #13
    I don't even know what you are talking about v.v
    You seem to be literally asking why is a meter a meter. And the answer is because that is what we call that measure of distance.

    The other interpretation of what you're asking is why am I assuming that time is progressing at the same speed as it does on Earth within a bubble of warped space designed to make it so time progresses roughly the same as it does on Earth.

    Neither of which makes sense and sounds to me like you aren't paying attention to what I've written, especially considering I'm talking about "warp" drives which avoid even discussing relativistic effects... as is their whole reason for existing.
  15. Apr 18, 2015 #14


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    That is not what I mean.

    Consider a spacecraft A starting from earth, going as fast as it can. 10c according to your posts.
    Now imagine a spacecraft B flying (without warp) with .01 c in the opposite direction. As seen by B, spacecraft A is now moving with 11.1 times the speed of light. Therefore, 10 times the speed of light cannot be the universal speed limit.
    I guess you can hand-wave this away by saying the speed is somehow limited as seen by a frame that is determined by the motion of the ship before and after the warp journey.
  16. Apr 18, 2015 #15
    Are you not familar with the idea of warp drives? That seems to be the case. They don't "travel" like a regular object. They move by the space around them moving while they stay still which effectively causes the removal of relativity as a consideration. And does indeed is more newtonian concepts of speed.

    There is no "relativistic" effects here because the ship is not "moving". That's the point of these types of drives.
    On the other hand there would be a blurring effect of sorts as light would be emitting from the object, but that is a visual effect and not a relativistic effect... Of course this is never really talked about in sci-fi but it would happen.

    Also who said anything about universal speed limit?
  17. Apr 18, 2015 #16


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    I am familiar with the ideas of warp drives - including the actual science, not just depictions in science fiction.
    Are you familiar with general relativity, which is the basis of that concept?
    They are solutions to general relativity, they do not "remove" relativity.

    "Moving" itself only makes sense if you ask "relative to what?" - there is no absolute motion and therefore no absolute rest. It does not make sense to say "it is not moving".

    Your 10c seem to be exactly this.
  18. Apr 18, 2015 #17
    Effectively it does.
    It doesn't even make sense what your saying.

    I'm saying that Ship A moves 10 meters in 10 seconds
    You're saying that Ship B at the same time moves 1 meter in 10 seconds in the opposite direction therefor Ship A moved 11 meters in 10 seconds.

    This is mistakenly and magically combining 2 different actions together as if they're the same when they're not.
    You're also mistakenly claiming that it is in the frame of "Earth." It's not. If you must have something to be relative to then it has moved 10 meters relative to its previous position... And one of this is pertinent or at least I don't see how it is so where are you going?

    I never implied that nor did I state that. In fact I said the opposite by pointing out that in the future of the time period they can go 40c. So where are you getting this. The only place I can guess is you aren't reading what I'm writing.
  19. Apr 18, 2015 #18


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    Forget it. I can help with physics, but apparently you are not interested in this. It is your story, you can violate laws of physics as much as you like.
  20. Apr 18, 2015 #19
    I'm saying I don't have even the slightest clue as to how this applies to what I'm asking about nor does what your saying make any sense at all.

    Look if I have a 20 by 20 grid and i say the scale of each grid is 1 meter. And then I say I can travel 10 meters in 10 seconds. And then I say I start a 0,0 and travel for 10 seconds at the end I will be at 0,10. If another ship at the same time travels 1 meter the opposite direction they will be at 0,-1. The first ship, nor the second ship, traveled 11 meters in 10 seconds. They each traveled the distance they travel independent of each other.

    There is no need to calculate relativity in any of this.

    The only effect this would have that the ships would appear to be blurred and elongated because the light from each are being emitted and would be emitted at points that are further away from each other and the light would be always traveling at c relitive to a 0 velocity frame.

    Why would anyone ever look at this and be like even though we call that a 10 meters and we call that 10 seconds and everyone agrees that you traveled 10 meters in 10 seconds but because someone was traveling in the opposite direction we're going to say you traveled 10 meters in 9 seconds even though you definitely traveled 10 meters in 10 seconds according to everyone?

    There is no time dilation anywhere in this so why do think it matters at all and what does it have to do with anything about this?

    And yes this is the same for the 10c ship and the 40c ship because they are both in the same reference frame. I said specifically that c is just being use to help quantify the speed but you seem to be ignoring that. And our language doesn't have words for talking about moving space time rather than moving through space time, so that might be confusing but again you said you understood the principle behind warp drives which get rid of the very thing you seem to be talking about as an issue v.v
  21. Apr 19, 2015 #20
    -shouldn't the size be just calculated from available payload? (yes size determined by how much you can lift)

    You didn't say it explicitly, but you want an optical telescope, right?

    Here is link of telescopes to be build in incoming future:

    Let's look for example this one:

    It seems that is going to use Korsch telescope.

    This study claims the Korsch telescope is the best choice now:
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
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