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Laser powered tiny space probes

Pman

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Rivem

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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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Pman

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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.
 

Pi R Squared

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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?

Alan
 




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