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"Plasma Magnet Sails to get manned missions to Mars in 1 week"

plasma magnet sail space interplanetary interstellar

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Plasma Magnet Sails to get manned missions to Mars in 1 week


The plasma magnet sail engine is little more than 2 pairs of charged rotating coils and is therefore extremely simple and inexpensive. A fully powered plasma magnet sail using a small nuclear power source could accelerate at 0.5G and reach 400-700 km/sec (0.2% of lightspeed) in half a day.

* Carrying a 10 Kilowatt power source enables very cheap missions to the Gravitational lens with trips taking 5 years. Multiple gravitational lens missions are needed since you can only observe what is on the exact opposite side of the sun from the gravitational lens mission
* 10kW power supply could propel a 2500 kg craft with an acceleration of 0.5g, reaching 400-700 km/s in just half a day. Greason suggested that with this acceleration, the FOCAL mission for gravitational lens telescopes requiring many craft should be achievable.
* A stream of charged particles could be generated from Phobos or Demos to slow the Plasma magnet sail to Mars. If you were slowing a 100-ton manned spacecraft, then you would need to produce 100,000 tons of particles. There would need to be multi-megawatt plant on the moons of Mars. It is possible to scale up for manned missions and to stop the craft.
* Neptune has a large enough magnetosphere where a plasma magnet sail could stop by decelerating at 5Gs. It would be a 4-month mission to Neptune
* a 10 KW system could slow an interstellar spacecraft from 20% of lightspeed over 2 years. Interstellar missions could then explore the target solar system.

Seems great for both interplanetary and interstellar applications. Amazingly, it might reach 20% of light speed, so it'd be twice as good as fusion or fission.

  • Casey, Yuli Ban and BasilBerylium like this




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Lets do it...


Trump should fight like hell to get a bill passed through congress to fund this to get us to mars.

Yuli Ban

Yuli Ban

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I don't have much faith since the Space Corps fell through. The idea of a military branch in space makes it seem like Trump— a man stuck in the militarized '50s— would've been the first one to throw all his weight behind it, but it's just not happening.


But I can hope, because at least Pence has a stated interest in space exploration. If he can at least get the ball rolling, then we might be in for a treat in the 2020s and 2030s. And maybe we'll eventually get the Space Corps. At least an Air & Space Corps (we kinda have that now, but not really).


There's a potentially new timeline opening up, what I'd like to call the "Accelerated Timeline".


So far, I've believed there to be two fundamental timelines into the future— the Fast Timeline and the Slow Timeline. Ever since 2014, I've believed we lived in the Fast one (hence why I was so sure that we'd not get ourselves involved in nuclear war back then; remember the "Saga of Our Destruction" and all that?) and everything that's happened since has only supported that. Perhaps even Trump winning when he did (2016 rather than 2020 or 2024). In the Slow Timeline, we never discover that GPUs are good for deep learning. Deep learning itself never takes off outside of relatively few papers. Watson is still the most impressive computer in the world as of 2018, and although it's advanced, it's not using deep learning architecture (which means an AI Winter has set in). DeepMind is never purchased by Google or anyone for that matter, and neither is Boston Dynamics. ASIMO's 2013 update is the best thing in humanoid robotics. Hence why we live in the Fast Timeline.


The Accelerated Timeline is something I still won't pin hopes onto, but it's increasingly possible (like 3% instead of 2%). 

What defines the AT is:

  • This. Plasma Magnet Sails. If everything goes well, we could see them in tests by the 2020s. It won't cost much to build a magsail, but in space, everything's expensive. We could test it out by sending a Roadster to Mars. If it's truly possible to get to Mars in a week, the biggest hurdle towards space exploration— getting to these distant worlds in the first place— will have been overcome, at least somewhat. Not to mention that a magsail would accelerate deep space science. 0.2% light speed = 1.3 million miles per hour, and that's only if you accelerate for half of a day. If you can potentially get this up to 1% of light speed, it would be possible to reach Jupiter in 72 hours. Even with 0.2% light speed, you could get there in 15 days. Of course, the problem then is slowing down; it'd take much longer if you wanted to actually orbit the damn planet. Also, if we could regularly travel to Mars in about a week, we could easily try out that magnetosphere reconstruction we geeked out over a while back.
  • Fusion power. We've all been hearing about the amazing advancements in fusion recently. With the addition of AI in architectural design and plasma control, it's possible that we'll see first ignition by the 2020s.
  • Silicon quantum computers. Google is clearly teasing something, and if we can create silicon quantum computers, we could have QCs with billions of qubits before the 2020s are finished. Do you know what that would do for machine learning? Sure, calibration would be terror, but it's possible. Imagine starting the decade with virtually nothing except a quantum computer that barely reaches quantum supremacy, news stories about a new Moore's Law for quantum computers being huge for a while, and then all of a sudden, Alphabet Corporation comes out with a 1 billion qubit universal quantum computer in 2025. We've already created billion-plus qubit entanglement in silicon (edit: it's far better than that; it was ten billion qubit entanglement); we just couldn't use it.
  • Brain scans + neural networks. Starspawn0 has already explained this. One of the things quantum computers can do expertly is machine learning, it turns out. That even goes for D-Wave's quantum-not-quantum computer.  Imagine deep neural networks + brain scans + billion qubit quantum computers. 


Talk about acceleration!

  • Zaphod, Casey, Jakob and 1 other like this

And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: plasma magnet sail, space, interplanetary, interstellar

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