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Posted: 6/13/2003 7:54:49 PM EDT
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/story.jsp?story=415300 Nasa gives go-ahead for nuclear mission to outer planets By Steve Connor, Science Editor 14 June 2003 An ambitious and controversial mission to explore the other planets of the solar system using nuclear-powered spacecraft has come a step closer after Nasa gave a giant aerospace company the go-ahead to develop revolutionary new engines. The aim is to build an interplanetary space probe powerful enough to fly vast distances and still to have enough power to collect scientific information and send it back to Earth. Nasa, the US's National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is giving $6m (£4.3m) to the American company Lockheed Martin to investigate the concepts needed to build such a deep-space explorer powered by a miniature nuclear reactor. Project Prometheus, named after the Greek god who gave fire to humanity, will concentrate on nuclear propulsion because it is considered the only form of power that can meet the mission's requirements. But critics will question the safety of launching potentially dangerous nuclear material into space, especially after the technical failures that led to shuttle crash earlier this year. Nasa said an immediate goal of Prometheus was to provide the propulsion to send a spacecraft to the planet-sized moons of Jupiter - Callisto, Ganymede and Europa - which may harbour life beneath their icy surfaces. Solar-powered instruments would be of little help in analysing the moons and planets of the outer solar system, where the sunlight is weak and ineffectual. Nasa has decided, therefore, that only a nuclear-fission reactor would provide sufficient electricity to probe these worlds. Existing space probes have reached as far as Jupiter and beyond but they have had to operate on the power equivalent to a few electric lightbulbs, which has severely limited what they could do, where they could go and what they could transmit back to Earth. A nuclear-powered spacecraft could not only operate powerful radars and other remote-sensing instruments but use its engines to travel more freely instead of relying on the gravitational "sling-shot" technique that limits the trajectory of existing probes. "Project Prometheus will develop the means to efficiently increase power for spacecraft, thereby fundamentally increasing our capability for Solar System exploration," Nasa said. "Increased power for spacecraft means not only travelling farther or faster, but is also means exploring more efficiently with enormously greater scientific return." The first candidate for nuclear propulsion, the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (Jimo), is unlikely to be launched before 2011 because of the time needed to build the spacecraft. However, as a fleet of space probes heads for Mars over the coming two years, the next target is likely to be Europa and its vast ice-covered ocean, confirmed by the space probe Galileo. Last year, the US National Research Council ranked a Europa orbiter as top priority for a "flagship" mission because of the possibility it might harbour life. Nasa scientists calculate that a nuclear-fission reactor on the Jimo spacecraft would give it a hundred times more power than a comparable space probe powered by solar panels. A reactor for a spacecraft would have to be about 10,000 times smaller than typical scientific reactors used on the ground. It would also have to incorporate safety enhancement. One feature is for the reactors to remain "cold" - not turned on - until they are well beyond Earth's orbit. Another is to ensure that once the mission is over the spacecraft is sent into a trajectory that takes it well away from Earth.
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 8:13:13 PM EDT
Thank God. We gotta get off this rock.
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 8:14:59 PM EDT
Excellent.. let's nuke jupiter on the way out....that planet's been pissing me off for some time now.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 6:28:36 AM EDT
All of that has been around (at least designed) since the 50's. None of it gets into space or the air because there are too many protesters in the world. There are designs on the books for space based reactor plants, nuke rocket engines, and even a nuke airplane. You don't see any because the public would pitch a fit, even before chernobly and three mile island. Oh and the whole shuttle blowing up on take off kinda worries them about contaminating the eastern seaboard. now if there was a launch facility in cali, I doubt people would be real worried.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 9:57:45 AM EDT
YES! Now we finally get to use those nuclear rocket engines we built in the early 70's!
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 10:09:42 AM EDT
Art Bells buddy Stanton Friedman worked on nuke engines.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:26:17 PM EDT
In a related thread, UTex Dallas researchers found a way to get carbon nanotubes to form fibers that are 4 times stronger than spider silk, the previous strongest fiber known to science. [url]http://www.smalltimes.com/document_display.cfm?document_id=6204[/url]
June 13, 2003 - Chemists at the University of Texas at Dallas have spun fibers more than four times tougher than spider silk, nature's wonder material. One day, the new fibers might be woven into bulletproof clothing for soldiers or "smart" skin for airplanes that fly themselves, said Ray Baughman, a chemist at UTD. "To our knowledge, this is the toughest material known to science," he said. Dr. Baughman, director of UTD's NanoTech Institute, and his colleagues describe the new fibers in a paper published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature. "It's the kind of thing a lot of people have talked about," said Ken Smith, vice president for technology at the Houston-based company Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. "It's a first-of-its-kind demonstration." The fibers appear to fulfill the promise of carbon nanotubes, microscopic rolls of carbon that were discovered in 1991 and have promised superstrong materials ever since. Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, for instance, envisioned fashioning nanotubes into a cable to ferry a "space elevator" from the ground into orbit. The UTD researchers have created fibers that are 20 times tougher than steel wire and 17 times tougher than Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests. For the first time, the team got nanotubes to align and clump together into long, tough fibers. After spinning nanotubes in a vat of polyvinyl alcohol, the scientists drew out black threads that were roughly the width of a human hair and often stretched longer than a football field. What's important is that the fibers can store a lot of energy, Dr. Baughman said. That could mean they could serve double duty as durable fabrics and energy-saving devices. Imagine, for instance, a jacket that could protect a soldier from bullets as it heats up or cools down. Or a bombproof coating for an airplane that stores energy in the batteries of its "skin." "That way, for the same weight and volume, you can get a structural function as well as an energy function," Dr. Baughman said. Tests on the new fibers showed that they acted as "supercapacitors," which are useful in applications such as hybrid electric vehicles that have to store a lot of energy. The fibers could also be woven into textiles that could be used in sensors, electromagnetic shields or antennas, he said. So far, the biggest hurdle to sewing futuristic nanotube clothes is the $500-per-gram cost of the nanotubes. Carbon Nanotechnologies, the main nanotube supplier in the United States, plans to scale up production within the next few years to make hundreds to thousands of pounds a day rather than the few pounds a day it makes now. The cost should go down accordingly, Dr. Smith said. Other UTD authors on the paper include Alan Dalton, Steve Collins, Edgar Muñoz, Joselito Razal, Von Howard Ebron, John Ferraris and Bog Kim. Jonathan Coleman, a visiting scientist from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, also participated in the work.
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Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:33:58 PM EDT
i need to get some underwear made out of that nanotube shit my big nuts keep busting out of my hanes
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:44:20 PM EDT
Originally Posted By bulldog1967: Excellent.. let's nuke jupiter on the way out....that planet's been pissing me off for some time now.
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and i thought i was the only one. those bastards need to die!
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:47:49 PM EDT
the bigger they are the harder they fall
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:50:49 PM EDT
Hey, I've got no beef with Jupiter, but what is up with Saturn and those gay-ass rings, anyway? Thwell! Don't even get me started on the probe to Uranus.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:52:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/14/2003 12:53:36 PM EDT by stemcell]
Originally Posted By HSimpson: Thank God. We gotta get off this rock.
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Hate to tell you this, bro, but we ain't ever getting "off this rock". I dare say that our over-populating tendencies will cause us to be extinct long before we ever find a habitable rock anywhere. Sorry my 100th post is not more optomistic.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 1:41:34 PM EDT
Originally Posted By stemcell:
Originally Posted By HSimpson: Thank God. We gotta get off this rock.
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Hate to tell you this, bro, but we ain't ever getting "off this rock". I dare say that our over-populating tendencies will cause us to be extinct long before we ever find a habitable rock anywhere. Sorry my 100th post is not more optomistic.
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Why would you want to live on another rock? Its much easier to build orbiting habitats than it is to terriform a planet, or find another one thats habitable, cause there aint any within a few light years of here. Anyplace that has astroids and a sun, you can build a orbiting habitat.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 2:03:14 PM EDT
Greenpeace is going to have a shit fit. Too bad their Zodiac rubber boats can't achieve escape velocity.[:P]
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