By Forrest Bishop
Copyright (c) 1996, All Rights
(A Linear Electrostatic Accelerator for Interstellar Nanoprobes)
A proposed method of launching and communicating with microgram-class
interstellar probes. The construction of the ~1000 Km long launcher "wires"
and the probes requires atomically precise structures (molecular nanotechnology)
not currently manufacturable . The proposed launch velocity is ~100000
Km/sec, or one third the speed of light.
The launcher is an array of linear electrostatic motors, partly based
on the design in . The probes form the armatures of this machine, which
are composed of "active cells"  and (super?)conducting elements
of a compatible design. These conductors are rearranged after launch to
form a microwave antenna [refs], then a magsail [refs].
For purposes of analysis, a study design is specified and characterized,
including the reasons for the choices of parameters. Three types of suspension
systems are considered. The issues of mechanical oscillations of the probe
during boost, overheating, near field Bremsstrahlung interactions, contact
dwell time, gap distance, relativistic corrections, alignment, and others
are addressed in some detail. The questionable utility and survivability
of the probes is argued in the affirmative. A number of strategies for
surviving the interstellar passage are discussed.
As the power supply is the functional equivalent of an ordinary car battery
and one switch, it is not discussed.
This system launches phalanxes of Shape-Shifting interstellar nanoprobes
at one third the speed of light. The probes may be capable of inflight
mutual rendezvous, some self repair, and decelerating to orbit the target
star system. A method of self-replicating at the new star system is proposed.
Study Design Specifications (will change):
(2) The Launcher
Electrode type: Samarium/Platinum [[quantum wire?]] tunneling junction.
Suspension system: Superconducting magnetic levitation coils on launcher,
repelling moving charges on probe. Curved launcher provides balancing
centripetal force. [[Electrets embedded in launcher repel charges on probe
conductors. No curve to launcher.]]
Alternate "electrode": Electron pre-accelerator replaces negative
tunneling gap. This removes the KE losses (probe heating) and diverts
some Bremsstrahlung (braking radiation).
(3) The Probe
Conductor modules. Modular MNT Active Cells for in flight remove
and replace. Gantry Cells. Engineering for launch stress.
The "MNT Active Cell" design presented in [ref] is used
here as the standard active cell, with modifications: Gantry Cells, presented
in [ref], are brought along to allow inflight salvage and rebuild of active
a) Diffraction optics
Using the standard cells, or the conductor modules, diffractive
lensing can be constructed when needed to take a bearing. The desired
wavelength is programmable.
b) Translational Movement
For mid-course correction and mutual rendezvous. Dead cells as reaction
mass, using standard cell drive system. Variable but limited Isp.
(4) The Transit
The probe rearranges to form a microwave antenna. A salvo of probes rendezvous
in flight. The cells rearrange to form a wire, with a sacrificial mass
or point probe, and a magnetic coil at the stern to keep it linear by
interacting with medium. ?The point probes are superconducting loops for
charged particle deflection?. New software is continuously broadcast.
- Cosmic radiation (particle and EM) (High energy)
- Intercloud particles (Low energy)
- Intercloud dust grains. ~ 10^4 encounters from here to Alpha Centauri.
Thousands of probes are launched in rapid succession. Periodic rendezvous,
form new point probes from damaged cells. Interrogator cells move up and
down the line to determine damage. Go faster. Treat dust grains as blobs
of free charge passing through cell. Cells are arranged in lines perpendicular
to the velocity. Encounter dwell time at .333c for 100nm cell and 400nm
dust grain: (10^-17 s/nm)*500nm=5*10^-15 seconds. Sacrificial point probes
arranged as wires, about 3 cm long, parallel to velocity. The dust grain
and the point probe are ionized. Superconducting loop point probes come
next, deflecting some of the remaining charged particles.
(5) The Arrival
a) The non-braking, fly-by case. A sequenced series of launches and fly-bys
mimics a stationary presence. The superconductor problem. Size of Cooper
pairs or vortices vs size of conductor.
b) Magsail deceleration. Magsail for "interplanetary" maneuvering?
Asteroid search and rendezvous. Need chondrous carbonate or comet. Oort
Cloud. Saturn rings. Ionization/ reaction of moieties enroute. Attrition
vs obliteration. Stacking moiety palettes vs distributing. Replication.
Communication back. Instructions forward. Constructing landing runways
- Mechanical oscillations of the probe. Longitudinal phonons generated
by charge-gap interactions. Coupling to transverse modes. Partial cancellation
damping by varying gap spacing. Active damping?
- Probe absorbing conversion losses (overheating), and b) radiation.
- Electron transfer velocities vs. launch velocity (another reason
for the electron pre-accelerator).
- Manufacturing (requires technologies not yet available).
- Launcher alignment.
[[Destruction enroute via interstellar medium.]]
- 100 million gravities tearing probe apart (not even close to
C-C bond strength). Applied force is distributed over the length and
width of the ribbon-shaped launch configuration.
- Power supply (10 VDC ). Power switching (one toggle switch). Energy
- Mass of probe too low to be of use (Contains ~500 million active
cells plus ~400 meters of antenna mesh wire). Point probes clear a corridor
in interstellar space. Power during flight is sent by maser from launch
Copyright ©1967-2004, Forrest Bishop, All Rights Reserved