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ESA Advanced Concepts Team Interstellar Workshop

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.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Charley June 17, 2019, 13:51

    “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.”
    Couldn’t agree with you more! It’s an extreme shame that now days, people treat knowledge as if it was nothing more than a mere commodity something like asking for extra condiments at a restaurant and being charged for it, unlike in previous times, they would give it to you as a way to cement relationships. Now days, even though it is the taxpayers who to an extremely large extent (possibly full extent?) who bear the brunt of the costs associated with virtually any research program, they now add insult to injury by asking you to pay for the results they got at your expense!
    So good for the Europeans to allow you to have open access to their research papers-perhaps more will follow suit instead of following greed.
    I simply scanned the article didn’t read it in detail, but is this a symposium? And will it be online? Are you going to be attending. Mr Gilster?

    • Paul Gilster June 17, 2019, 14:51

      The workshop is a two-day affair, one that I unfortunately can’t make it to, but I’ll look forward to the publication of the papers.

  • Al Jackson June 18, 2019, 7:19

    Getting where I can’t keep up with stuff! First hearing this.
    Having published and followed interstellar flight over about 50 years now, interesting to see another journal. Used to be the only venues were Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and Astronautica Acta …. and sometimes the journals of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (tho those journals have page charges which limits many authors who have no funding for this kind of technical work). I wish everybody would become aware of arXiv, which is an excellent place for pre-prints and is great way to get comments on a paper before publication or referee eyes. Also a way to see papers for free.

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