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About Piscator

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  1. Perhaps he wasn't joking about that nuclear pulse drive ... Seriously though, I assume they removed the engine to have it thouroughly checked for stress fractures and the like.
  2. Would the polished-ness even matter at all? Instead of a bright - but narrow - band of light, we would see a less brilliant reflection spread out over a greater area. The total albedo should be pretty much the same, I'd assume.
  3. I think he's referring to the hopper. I noticed the same thing. The metal seems to be smoother and less crinkled this time.
  4. Wouldn't we have to know the type of armour first to assess the effectiveness of the hammer?
  5. I wouldn't call a system that worked for over a decade "useless", but Curiosity's already using radioisotope batteries as far as I know.
  6. I wondered about that, too. After all, you would assume that all you would have to do is to burn the fuel-rich pre-burner exhaust with a oxygen-enriched mixture in the main chamber or vice versa.
  7. I remember reading that quite a bit of moon dust is suspended above the surface due to electrostatic effects. Maybe this could be similar?
  8. I wouldn't just worry about the carbon, but about the hydrogen as well. Hot hydrogen is know to have some unwelcome effects on the material properties of several alloys. 300 series steel appears to be resonably resistant against hydrogen - at least at low temperatures - but with the intended reuse rates there might be something to watch out for. Water as a coolant might be quite sensible since it could double as radiation shielding in the final, interplanetary versions of the vehicle.
  9. Messages to aliens seem to me like the least important bit of such a mission, given the likelihood of it ever been found. If you want to play this game though, I would suggest to add something that aids the detection of your message in a bottle. After all, there are probably dozens of probe-sized interstellar objects crossing a solar system at any given time, so something that screams "artificially made object" when glanced casually by remote sensing instruments would be quite helpful. I'm thinking of a peculiar spectroscopic signature, unusual light curve or something of that kind. Since the Haumea fly-by seems like the most interesting part of the mission (at least to me), I wonder how sensible it would be to add another probelet, that would detach some time prior to the fly-by and pass Haumea half a rotation later in order to a get good view of the other side of the object. Given Haumea's rapid rotation, this might not be as useful as it would have been at Pluto though.
  10. My answer would be: "Not at all." The idea of terraforming other worlds to make them more habitable - especially ones so unlike earth - is pretty much like the idea of draining the Atlantic ocean to avoid having to use these inconvenient ships. It's a solution that's completely disproportionate to the problem. Adapting to the environment is usually easier than adapting the environment, so instead of trying to heat several quintillion tons of ice we should rather direct our efforts to designing comfortable space suits.
  11. These are probably the most likely scenarios, although option 1 would seem rather atypical for a body of that size (or come to think about it, it might in fact turn out to be very typical for bodies of this type; either not having much rotational momentum in the first place due to their mode of accretion or having lost much of it by evaporation). My money would have been on "non-eclipsing binary of two uniform parts" but after seeing a visualisation of the stellar occultation data, the "non-eclipsing" part doesn't seem exactly likely anymore. Probably more likely still than the "swarm of mini-moons" and "dust cloud" ideas, but I'd love to be wrong there.
  12. So . . . while there's still the chance to speculate, does anyone want to hazard a guess about the apparent absence of a lightcurve despite stellar occultation data suggesting an non-spherical shape for UT?
  13. It could very well be, that the counter-intuitive part might still refer to something else than the change in material. Having the "countour staying aproximately the same" still allows for the position of the fins to be switched arround, which seemed like the most plausible idea so far. Having a fin on the "underside" of the vessel is pretty counter-intuitive.
  14. Sounds essentially like a Falcon 9 whose first stage lands horizontally instead of vertically (albeit for a lighter range of payloads). I wonder which concept proves more practical in the long run.
  15. I was about to suggest calling it "Puff (the Magic Dragon)", but then I read that's where the name originally came from. Doesn't seem very surprising in retrospect.