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New Horizons, Pluto and the Kuiper belt
ljk4-1
post Nov 14 2005, 07:01 PM
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QUOTE (David @ Nov 14 2005, 12:02 PM)
Not that, in my opinion, that would do much good.  I think the complete failure of SETI to turn up anything thus far tells us one of two things, and probably both: one, that intelligent species, assuming there to be others than humans, are scattered thinly across the universe; there might be no more than one per galaxy. Two, that carrying living beings across interstellar space is very, very difficult, and that optimistic scenarios about colonizing the entire galaxy in a matter of a millennia are untenable.

One thing we can be pretty sure about is that when humans emerge from the solar system, they are not going to find great Star Empires and Space Trading Federations full of busy aliens waiting for them -- or we would have learned of them already.  Instead there will be a vast, desolate, and wild sky.
*


The Milky Way Galaxy is 10 billion years old, 100,000 light years across, and contains 400 billion stars. And the only recently technological beings on Sol 3 think that after a few decades of sporadic searches into space that they are going to find ETI, or have said beings find them?

Especially if the ETI are really advanced, why would they contact us? We might serve as an anthropological study of sorts, which would likely mean Do Not Disturb the Study Subjects.

To an earlier point you made, I never considered probes with data records to be the best way to communicate with ETI - at least if you wanted a fast response. As you can see above, I am well aware of the distances and numbers involved with the task. I just think it would do well for both us and any other residents of the Milky Way to preserve some record of ourselves that will long outlive Earth.

Maybe the chances of an ETI finding such a probe or SETI succeeding as we are currently conducting it are slim, but as they said in the famous 1959 Nature paper on the subject:

"The probability of success is difficult to estimate; but if we never search, the chance of success is zero."

http://www.coseti.org/morris_0.htm

The odds of any of our probes being found out there are slim, but if there is that chance, then we should send them out with some record of who were are and what our world is like. Is it really such a problem?


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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ljk4-1
post Nov 14 2005, 07:04 PM
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QUOTE (mike @ Nov 14 2005, 01:49 PM)
My point in mentioning in all that 'junk' is that all those things are surely very popular - what makes them so horrible?  What do you think we should place on a probe meant to inform an alien species just what we're all about?  Personally, I haven't the vaguest idea.. a copy of the entire planet, miniaturized somehow, is all that currently comes to mind.
*


The contents of the Voyager Records are a good start.

http://re-lab.net/welcome/

Have you ever read Murmurs of Earth?


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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john_s
post Nov 14 2005, 07:17 PM
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QUOTE (hendric @ Nov 13 2005, 07:49 AM)
John,
  How do you plan to commission the instruments after launch?  Taking pictures of DSO's?  I'm sure some amateur astronomers could recommend a few for you to try out...
*


We'll mostly be photographing boring stuff like stars to calibrate and commission the instruments. Deep-space targets are an interesting idea, though our maximum exposure time with LORRI is about 10 seconds, which would cramp our style. The Jupiter encounter is also an important part of the calibration process, despite the saturation problems with MVIC and LORRI, because the Jupiter system will give us our only extended (non point source) targets before Pluto.
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mike
post Nov 14 2005, 08:38 PM
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No, I haven't read Murmurs of Earth.

They did cover a wide variety of subjects with their imagery - I only knew about the plate with the naked people and the basic model of our solar system.. Realistically of course you can't include everything. If there was enough worldwide interest there could be a submission process followed by a voting process - what better way is there? Britney Spears, iPod nano, and [insert other popular thing here], here we come. smile.gif I'm sure we'd have a christian bible, and a buddhist statuette, and [insert other religious artefact here], too, and anything of any moderate popularity.

I still say put the stuff on only if there's extra weight that can't be used on another instrument or more fuel (is more fuel ever not useful?). By the time the probe reaches the edge of the solar system, everything on it will be terribly unfashionable and when the aliens mock us for our afros and polyester suits, we'll feel like jerks - I know it sounds like I'm joking, but that's what will happen - "Oh, you thought we all still only had TWO arms? We can have as many as want now, of course.. Our ancestors just weren't very smart back then.." "Oh, you thought that tube-shaped metal thing with the giant flat bars and jets was our best mode of transportation? Oh, you thought that dinky probe wasn't outdated 1,000,000,000 years ago?"

I like data, being sent back, lots of data. smile.gif But really, it does seem a shame to not send out something - how about every 5 probes or so they send out a larger than usual batch of terribly outdated photos and movies and books, and we can be embarassed at the 1,000,000-year reunion - along with everyone else. smile.gif If nothing else it would be good for PR (eventually everyone could get a chunk), and it would give us a snapshot of what life was like when the probe was launched.

Another way of looking at it is what sort of alien probe would I want slamming into the ground at my feet - I would much rather have a probe packed with advanced technology than one with pictures of variously-cultured people dancing, climbing mountains, etc., and even a picture of an advanced alien craft wouldn't be much use - detailed plans would be nice, though (Contact, anyone).. but it would be interesting to see how the guys who built it looked, how they talked (or flashed, or transmitted). And realistically a larger portion of people would enjoy that, and who knows, bah.

I return to my original assertion that we have no idea what result any particular probe will generate, and that personally I want to know what's beyond the glow of our sun, so instruments for me, cultural stuff later, maybe. And if you think I rambled too much, IT'S CULTURE, BABY
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JRehling
post Nov 14 2005, 09:45 PM
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This thread is becoming a demonstration of signal to noise ratio on the Internet.
Maybe we could create a separate topic branch for "Highly speculative topics rooted barely in fact" and keep the Saturn, Pluto, etc., branches a rich source of discussion on those topics.
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hendric
post Nov 14 2005, 11:02 PM
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QUOTE (john_s @ Nov 14 2005, 01:17 PM)
We'll mostly be photographing boring stuff like stars to calibrate and commission the instruments.  Deep-space targets are an interesting idea, though our maximum exposure time with LORRI is about 10 seconds, which would cramp our style.
*


Well, just basing on what's on the opposite side of the sky from the sun the day of launch, there should be a nice grouping of "bright" DSOs to try for, including M31, The Pleiades, the Virgo galaxies, M51, Orion nebula, and a large number of open clusters in the area. I couldn't find any really detailed instrument information on LORRI or RALPH, but based on 5000 lines at 20 urad/pixel, should give ~5.7 degrees, enough for a very cool picture of M31.

10 seconds might not be long enough, but if you're afraid of oversaturation of the CCDs and will have to image in Jupitershine, maybe M31, M51, or the Orion nebula will work. The open clusters should definitely be worthwhile targets, like the Pleiades, the Beehive, or others. A few months after launch the best globular clusters should be far enough away from the sun.

I'm sure I'm screwing something up along the line. Can you talk about the basics of the cameras, like resolution, focal length and F/ratio? I'm sure the QE must be pretty close to 100%, and since LORRI is a clear filter it gets the best case light.

Of course, beyond the first commissioning shots I'm sure it would be difficult to justify to the DSN to take photos of DSOs for EPO...


--------------------
Space Enthusiast Richard Hendricks
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"The engineers, as usual, made a tremendous fuss. Again as usual, they did the job in half the time they had dismissed as being absolutely impossible." --Rescue Party, Arthur C Clarke
Mother Nature is the final inspector of all quality.
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ljk4-1
post Nov 15 2005, 03:52 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Nov 14 2005, 04:45 PM)
This thread is becoming a demonstration of signal to noise ratio on the Internet.
  Maybe we could create a separate topic branch for "Highly speculative topics rooted barely in fact" and keep the Saturn, Pluto, etc., branches a rich source of discussion on those topics.
*


You gentlemen are absolutely right. In fact, not only will I no longer even consider the idea of ETI or sending probes with messages on them for them, I have even begun to question the concept of Pluto as an actual world. After all, I have never seen it with my own eyes. Oh sure, there are photos and such of this "Pluto", but they can easily be faked. Most of them just look like a star anyway. And what decent astronomer would seriously name a planet after a cartoon dog? What next, a warrior princess?

tongue.gif


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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Rob Pinnegar
post Nov 15 2005, 04:14 PM
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Okay, that's funny... but he's right, guys. The reason this forum is so good is that it has been kept as a science forum instead of a speculation forum. If we start getting away from that, we will start losing some of the scientists who like to post here. IMHO, this type of thing really is best nipped in the bud.

One place you might want to check out is the subforum titled "Community Chit Chat" that appears near the bottom of the main Unmanned Spaceflight page. If you really want to chat about speculative stuff, that might be a good place to do it. (I'm suggesting this because, although I'd really like to see this forum retain its quality, I don't much relish the idea of telling people to shut up -- that really isn't a very effective way of encouraging people's interest in science.)
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spfrss
post Nov 16 2005, 09:42 AM
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QUOTE (RNeuhaus @ Nov 7 2005, 04:32 PM)
Very nice pictures. The inquietud I have is that the probe is totally covered by a gold sheed except to the nuclear stick which looks somewhat worn with lots of scars.

Rodolfo
*


as the picture captions says, the RTG is a dummy, I think used for weight/balance testing.

IMHO the flight one will be installed at launchpad or just befoe encapsulating NH in PF.

live long and prosper

Mauro
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BPCooper
post Nov 16 2005, 08:34 PM
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QUOTE (spfrss @ Nov 16 2005, 05:42 AM)
as the picture captions says, the RTG is a dummy, I think used for weight/balance testing.


Mauro
*


It was a dummy used for just that, yep. The real one looks nearly identical, if not exactly.

The RTG will not be covered in gold.


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Comga
post Nov 17 2005, 03:40 AM
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Weeky NASA update on expendable launchers

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launch...ets/status/2005

Mission: New Horizons
Launch Vehicle: Lockheed Martin Atlas V 551 (AV-010) Launch Pad:
Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: Jan. 11, 2006
Launch Window: 2:08 to 4:07 p.m. EST

The bottom portion of the payload fairing was installed this week on the Atlas V. A Launch Vehicle Readiness Review was successfully completed Tuesday. The fit check of the Radioisotope Thermo-electric Generator power system with the spacecraft was performed last week. The generator will be installed for flight at the launch pad. A "dry" spin balance test of the spacecraft will be completed this week. After Thanksgiving, hydrazine fuel for attitude control and course-correction maneuvers will be loaded on the spacecraft and a "wet" spin balance test performed.
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BPCooper
post Nov 17 2005, 03:48 AM
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The past few days neither the real or mockup RTG was installed. It looks (on the web feeds) like a cylindrical aluminum fitting similar in size, but it's hard to tell details. Does anyone know what that is? Perhaps just ballast to keep it balanced.


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Redstone
post Nov 17 2005, 05:03 AM
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The flight RTG was not installed, but there was a fit check made. The flight RTG will be installed once the spacecraft is atop the rocket. I suspect this is because generally it is best to have as few people around an RTG as possible.

Here is a picture of the real RTG being removed from New Horizons after the fit check.
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Alan Stern
post Nov 17 2005, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE (BPCooper @ Nov 17 2005, 03:48 AM)
The past few days neither the real or mockup RTG was installed. It looks (on the web feeds) like a cylindrical aluminum fitting similar in size, but it's hard to tell details. Does anyone know what that is? Perhaps just ballast to keep it balanced.
*


Good question, here's the scoop:

That's the mass model that simulates the mass and moments of inertia of the RTG.
It doesn't look as much like the real deal as the black thermal/electrical simulator
does, but it is what you want to have on for spin balance.

-Alan Stern
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BPCooper
post Nov 17 2005, 01:51 PM
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QUOTE (Alan Stern @ Nov 17 2005, 06:45 AM)
Good question, here's the scoop:

That's the mass model that simulates the mass and moments of inertia of the RTG.
It doesn't look as much like the real deal as the black thermal/electrical simulator
does, but it is what you want to have on for spin balance.

-Alan Stern
*


Interesting, thanks. Is that simulated RTG not useful for spin balance testing? And was that simulator an active heat and electrical generating system minus the Pu?


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