Given the difficulties that persist in retrieving many good papers from behind publisher firewalls, I’m always glad to see open access journals plying their trade. Let me call your attention in particular to Acta Futura, which comes out of the scientists working with the European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team. Acta Future defines itself as multidisciplinary in scope with a focus on the long-term development of space science.

Hence the list of topics is wide, as the website notes, “…ranging from fundamental physics to biomimetics, mission analysis, computational intelligence, neuroscience, as well as artificial intelligence or energy systems,” and this does not exhaust the range of possibilities. If you’re interested in browsing through or searching the archives, click here for a page with the appropriate links as well as information on how to submit papers to Acta Futura.

I’ve had ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team on my mind this weekend because long-time Centauri Dreams reader David Wojciech passed along news of the upcoming ACT interstellar workshop, beginning this week on the 20th, and carrying over to the following day. The conference anticipates an upcoming issue of Acta Futura devoted to interstellar exploration. The venue will be Erasmus Highbay at ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands.

Topics to be covered in depth are:

  • Advanced propulsion technologies for interstellar probes
  • Communication for interstellar exploration
  • Concepts and ideas surrounding world ships: sociology, ethics, anthropology, language development
  • Technologies and measure to keep humans alive, healthy and productive during long duration spaceflight

And I note that registration is free of charge until June 18, so if you’re fortunate enough to be in range of the meeting, be sure to check in at the conference webpage. I’m seeing plenty of good material here, from Pontus Brandt’s “A Pragmatic Interstellar Probe in the 2030s,” to Andreas Hein’s “World ships: feasibility and rationale” and Michael Hippke’s “Interstellar communication.” But look at the whole list (available here), which includes Philip Lubin on laser propulsion, Rob Swinney on fusion, Angelo Vermeulen on evolvable spacecraft and Ugo Lafont on self-healing materials. Most of these will be familiar names to regular Centauri Dreams readers.

Image: A Bussard ramjet in flight, as imagined for ESA’s Innovative Technologies from Science Fiction project. Credit: ESA/Manchu.

There was a time not so long ago when posting news of an upcoming interstellar conference would be relevant only to those within immediate geographic range. The entire field of interstellar studies, in fact, was once an afterthought at conferences largely devoted to other matters, usually discussed only at the end. These days, a rising interest in interstellar possibilities leads to conferences whose papers will be readily accessible in an open access journal like Acta Futura. We’ll have a look at these when the materials reach publication stage.