Old 04-16-2016, 01:53 PM #1
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Cool Laser powered tiny space probes

Anyone else see this story on CBS This Morning? Sounds like Mark Z is going to back it up.
Laser Arrays Could Power a Space Probe to 25% the Speed of Light ? NOVA Next | PBS
Theres lots of other stuff out there on it.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...nearest-star1/
Should have put this under science and lasers. Oh well.


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Old 04-16-2016, 02:26 PM #2
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Default Re: Laser powered tiny space probes

These things are really an extension of the "solar sail" that Carl Sagan promoted. To speed things up and make sure it has enough light, lasers have been proposed for a while.

I don't know how they plan to build huge MW class lasers in space with excellent focusing optics and a power supply. The other issue is that slowing down would be crazy difficult.

It's a very cool technology, and it's probably the best bet we've got right now for an interstellar probe.
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Old 04-16-2016, 03:12 PM #3
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Default Re: Laser powered tiny space probes

What the animation showed on tv was a bunch of ground based lasers. I don't know when they would be trying to target the things but it sure seems like it would be ridiculously difficult.
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Old 04-16-2016, 04:29 PM #4
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Default Re: Laser powered tiny space probes

They plan on having the lasers ground based, it would be far too expensive for the laser array to be space based. I have been hearing talk about this on the radio lately and this one looks promising because in theory it can accelerate these probes very quickly, in just a few minutes. There are at least two other methods in developement that could accelerate something to a good fraction of lightspeed or maybe to near lightspeed. It remains to be seen what will work best.

There is no problem targeting these things from the ground, I remember back in the early 90's when there was a military test of a laser targeting a satellite, it was sucessful and there was a televised news conference, it was a big deal way back then to be able to track and target a satellite with a laser from the ground. I am sure we can do it much better by now.

What I am wondering about is how can these probes transmit their data back to earth?

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