Yarkovsky and YORP Effect Propulsion for Long-life Starprobes

June 22, 2015

Centauri Dreams regular James Jason Wentworth wrote recently with some musings about Bracewell probes, proposed by Ronald Bracewell in a 1960 paper. Bracewell conceived the idea of autonomous craft that could monitor developments in a distant solar system, perhaps communicating with any local species that developed technology. Pondering how such a craft might manage station-keeping […]

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Of an Archive on the Moon

December 12, 2014

Lunar Mission One is an interesting private attempt to put a payload on the lunar surface, a crowdsourced project aimed at doing good science and deepening public participation in spaceflight. Remembering the Apollo days, I’m always interested in seeing what can be done to renew interest in space, and having the chance to make a […]

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Interstellar Arrival: Slowing the Sail

November 7, 2014

Some final thoughts on hybrid propulsion will wrap up this series on solar sails, which grew out of ideas I encountered in the new edition of the Matloff, Johnson and Vulpetti book Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel (Copernicus, 2014). The chance to preview the book (publication is slated for later this month) […]

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A Dramatic Upgrade for Interferometry

August 15, 2014

What can we do to make telescopes better both on Earth and in space? Ashley Baldwin has some thoughts on the matter, with reference to a new paper that explores interferometry and advocates an approach that can drastically improve its uses at optical wavelengths. Baldwin, a regular Centauri Dreams commenter, is a consultant psychiatrist at […]

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101 Geysers on Enceladus (and What They Imply)

July 31, 2014

I’ve mentioned before the irony that we may discover signs of robust extraterrestrial life sooner around a distant exoplanet than right here in our own Solar System. The scenario isn’t terribly implausible: Perhaps we come up empty on Mars, or find ourselves bogged down with ambiguous results. As our rovers dig, we still have Europa, […]

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A View of the Deepest Future

June 23, 2014

Adam Crowl first appeared in Centauri Dreams not long after I opened the site to comments about nine years ago. His insights immediately caught my eye and challenged my thinking. I have always admired auto-didacts, and Adam is an outstanding example: “I don’t work in this field nor did I especially train in it,” he […]

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Kepler-186f: Close to Earth Size, in the HZ

April 17, 2014

We have another ‘habitable zone’ planet to talk about today, one not much bigger than the Earth, but it’s probably also time to renew the caveat that using the word ‘habitable’ carries with it no guarantees. The working definition of habitable zone right now is that orbital distance within which liquid water might exist on […]

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Interstellar Probe: The 1 KG Mission

March 31, 2014

Reading Charles Adler’s Wizards, Aliens and Starships over the weekend, I’ve been thinking about starflight and cost. Subtitled ‘Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction,’ Adler’s book uses the genres as a way into sound science, and his chapters contain numerous references to writers like Poul Anderson, Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein. On the […]

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A Dwarf Planet Beyond Sedna (and Its Implications)

March 26, 2014

Most Centauri Dreams readers are hardly going to be surprised by the idea that a large number of objects exist well outside the orbit of Pluto and, indeed, outside the Kuiper Belt itself. The search for unknown planets or even a brown dwarf that might perturb cometary orbits in the Oort Cloud has occupied us […]

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An Interstellar Mission Statement

March 4, 2014

Yesterday I wrote about what Michael Michaud calls ‘the new cosmic humanism,’ looking back at an essay the writer and diplomat wrote for Interdisciplinary Science Reviews in 1979. Intelligence, Michaud believes, creates the opportunity to reverse entropy at least on the local scale, and to impose choice on a universe whose purpose we do not […]

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