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Mission To Mars Scifi Challenge


What are our chances at success?  

3 members have voted

  1. 1. Can We Do It Or Not?

    • Are You Serious?
    • No Way
      0
    • Maybe... That's A Big Maybe
      0
    • I have faith er... trust in my species... I think!
      0
    • Puh-leeze.... We WILL be Overlords Of The Galaxy! Gimme That Tech! Keep those tests comin!


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Disclaimer: This scenario is not for a fic I am writing. I am just using it to see if we can do it or not.

Scenario: Aliens show up in 2020 and say:

"We will give you these photon portals of ours as a test. Each portal has an aperture portal area of 5 meters. You will use them to estabilsh two occupied outpost colonies on other moons, asteroids,  or planets in your solar system within a century of time. If you succeed you get to keep the WORKING photon portals. If you fail then when we return in a century, we will allow the portals to shut off. Just so you know, they are set to shut off a century from the moment you turn them on.... whether you turn it off or on matters not as far as affecting that after you turn it on. Just to be clear, when we arrive in a century both outposts must be occupied with your kind."

Human Ambassador: "Can we have more time?"

Alien Ambassador: "Where is your trust in your species? Surely your kind can do this in 100 of your years! We would not have offered the technology if we thought you could not. On the other hand... if you cannot or do not want to, then we will give the technology to some other kind that proves themselves worthy."

"Can you show us how it works-the technology?"

"No. We do not know. We were given the same test as you... or rather a series of tests. We lost at times but other times we won... and well, here we are."

"You are saying you were given it for passing a test like what you are proposing to us? Who gave it to you?"

"The Researchers of course!"

"Who are they?"

"They are like gods..... as we have no known science to explain the technology they have have given us. It's an experiment or hobby of theirs to do this. We work for them. And before you ask, none of us has seen one and returned to tell anyone about it.  Some have entered their starships but no one has ever returned, so I suppose it is better not to try."

Main question: Could we succeed at the test? Or is the alien ambassador just trolling us for laughs? Like they do not think we can do it and would be totally shocked if we managed to pull it off?

My guess: I dunno, maybe we could find a way to fire the 500 terawatt NIF laser CONTINOUSLY down the portal to a portal linked spacex ship to give it deltav/thrust on par with or close to Zubrin's NSWR? Maybe better (would be nice)?

 

Or is all this just hopeless? We get to play with portals for a century (and later for the spares we don't use but only a century as well for those).

 

What are your ideas? Can we do it?

 

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, razark said:

I dunno.  What the hell's a "photon portal"?

I will answer with questions per your reply:

1. What is EM radiation?

2. What is a networked portal?

 

Shine any radiation you wish through instantly no matter the distance.

 

How many portals? Earth gets a billion divided evenly amomg the nations...because they teleport them straight in.

Which means  each nation gets 5128205 portal gates.

Edited by Spacescifi
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4 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

"We will give you these photon portals of ours as a test. Each portal has an aperture portal area of 5 meters."

If the aliens are giving us photon portals with an area in units of distance1, we already have a big problem because apparently these are two-dimensional aliens who use volume to denote area and area to denote distance.

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18 minutes ago, razark said:

Since we're just making stuff up, then, my answer would be "No, we can't do it, because the Vogons are on their way with a constructor fleet."

 

6 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

If the aliens are giving us photon portals with an area in units of distance1, we already have a big problem because apparently these are two-dimensional aliens who use volume to denote area and area to denote distance.

 

If you don't wish to play along fine.

 

Just invented the scenario to see if we could cheat an NSWR using a contineous terawatt laser on propellant rocketry or not.

 

A powerstation can give a spaceship more power than it would have normally.

Waste heat is still an issue, just less so.

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Just now, Spacescifi said:
9 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

If the aliens are giving us photon portals with an area in units of distance1, we already have a big problem because apparently these are two-dimensional aliens who use volume to denote area and area to denote distance.

If you don't wish to play along fine.

Just invented the scenario to see if we could cheat an NSWR using a contineous terawatt laser on propellant rocketry or not.

Oh, I absolutely would love to play along. I was being snarky. I just need to know whether these are portals with an area of five square meters or a diameter of five meters. It makes a big difference. Also, how much does each portal weigh? Also very important.

Are the portals indestructible? Because if they are, I propose yeeting them into a low solar orbit. Put the pair portal underwater in the ocean and run a steam turbine. Absolutely massive power production capability. Unlimited free energy everywhere within 100 miles of any major body of water.

Of course we will probably be contributing to anthropogenic climate change at that point, but we can stop using fossil fuels, so that should help.

3 minutes ago, Spacescifi said:

...using a contineous terawatt laser on propellant rocketry or not.

Waste heat is still an issue, just less so.

You don't need a laser at all because the light doesn't need to be coherent. You mount one portal inside some super hot industrial furnace. You mount the other portal inside your combustion chamber and pipe liquid hydrogen directly into the chamber. Not a torchship, but close enough to one that we can easily colonize half a dozen worlds within fifty years.

I will say for the record that if you allow for lightspeed delay and a few other things, I **think** that you could create pair portals like this without violating any of the laws of physics.

Obviously we don't know of any way to create one, but a black-box pair portal that allows radiation transmission as described wouldn't necessarily violate any laws. 

It would make for a cool science fiction story if some social media mogul tried to create "instant communication" portals using entangled particles so that you could have a "window" into another part of the world, and then someone clever thought about using them for energy transfer.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Oh, I absolutely would love to play along. I was being snarky. I just need to know whether these are portals with an area of five square meters or a diameter of five meters. It makes a big difference. Also, how much does each portal weigh? Also very important.

Are the portals indestructible? Because if they are, I propose yeeting them into a low solar orbit. Put the pair portal underwater in the ocean and run a steam turbine. Absolutely massive power production capability. Unlimited free energy everywhere within 100 miles of any major body of water.

Of course we will probably be contributing to anthropogenic climate change at that point, but we can stop using fossil fuels, so that should help.

You don't need a laser at all because the light doesn't need to be coherent. You mount one portal inside some super hot industrial furnace. You mount the other portal inside your combustion chamber and pipe liquid hydrogen directly into the chamber. Not a torchship, but close enough to one that we can easily colonize half a dozen worlds within fifty years.

 

5 meter diameter aperture portal.

Yes the portals are destructable (melting point of tungsten).

 

The main problem I see is melting the portal in tge combustion chamber.

 

How do we solve that? It will be near or surrounded by propellant right? The portal?

It would ablate no?

By the way...  the portal ring weighs 3 tons.

 

And if it is destroyed it goes off like a 3 ton AM bomb.

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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Posted (edited)

Actually I could solve cooling issue with regenerative cooling (coolant piped over portal) and likely ugly huge radiator fins.

 

Sad how physics ruins our day and TWR with huge radiator  fins unless you cheat with indestructable technology.

Edited by Spacescifi
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1 hour ago, Spacescifi said:

Actually I could solve cooling issue with regenerative cooling (coolant piped over portal) and likely ugly huge radiator fins.

No need; just let the propellant be your coolant. It heats up before entering the chamber, then heats up more in the chamber before being expelled. No radiator fins required.

If the portals have the same melting point as tungsten then they can readily survive being in orbit around the sun with the same perihelion as the Parker Solar Probe, or evening closer. At that distance, solar insolation is 625 times higher than it is on the hottest summer day on Earth. That’s a terrific energy source. We would basically be building a Dyson swarm and we would rapidly solve all energy problems on Earth.

I am in no mood to do the math now, but I strongly suspect a five-meter-diameter three-tonne photon portal would allow you to build a LOX-afterburning methane thermal rocket with extremely high specific impulse and absolutely acceptable TWR.

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5 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

No need; just let the propellant be your coolant. It heats up before entering the chamber, then heats up more in the chamber before being expelled. No radiator fins required.

If the portals have the same melting point as tungsten then they can readily survive being in orbit around the sun with the same perihelion as the Parker Solar Probe, or evening closer. At that distance, solar insolation is 625 times higher than it is on the hottest summer day on Earth. That’s a terrific energy source. We would basically be building a Dyson swarm and we would rapidly solve all energy problems on Earth.

I am in no mood to do the math now, but I strongly suspect a five-meter-diameter three-tonne photon portal would allow you to build a LOX-afterburning methane thermal rocket with extremely high specific impulse and absolutely acceptable TWR.

Understood... and thanks.

 

Still not as good as Zubrin's NSWR? Or better?

I will find out in a few days.

 

The only real danger is nations weaponizing the portals.... which too easy with nukes on Earth.

 

Survive a century... but then again if we did not... no fiction so

Makes sense you need a saccherine start.

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4 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

At that distance, solar insolation is 625 times higher than it is on the hottest summer day on Earth. That’s a terrific energy source.

About 16 MW per portal. Not bad and a billion of them would certainly cover all the world energy needs, but in comparison, the Rocketdyne F1 was about 1500 times more powerful.

That being said, the "win conditions" are trivial. Having an occupied outpost on Moon and Mars in 100 years would super easy, barely an inconvenience, even without this tech, and I'd guess that will be a case with or without the  promise of alien super present.

Edited by Shpaget
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2 hours ago, Shpaget said:

About 16 MW per portal. Not bad and a billion of them would certainly cover all the world energy needs, but in comparison, the Rocketdyne F1 was about 1500 times more powerful.

Yeah, now that I check the math, it seems you would need something with more umph to compete with a nuclear thermal rocket. The NERVA XE Prime had a total dry mass of 18 tonnes and it produced over 1000 MW.

5 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

Still not as good as Zubrin's NSWR? Or better?

It’s physics-breaking so it is better than a nuclear saltwater rocket in that sense, but as described it would be nigh-impossible to get the kind of thrust or specific impulse out of it that Zubrin’s dragon breath rocket can boast. 

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8 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

If you don't wish to play along fine.

It's hard to play the game when you don't explain the rules.

You said "here's a photon portal", with no explanation of what that even means.  If you have some magic item with no definable characteristics, it's impossible to say how it behaves.

 

Photon: a particle representing a quantum of light or other electromagnetic radiation.
Portal: a doorway, gate, or other entrance

Therefore, a Photon Portal is a doorway, gate, or other entrance for a quantum of light

So, the aliens give us a "window"?

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As they gave us the portals for free, they are interested in us.

So, we should ignore those portals-phortals-schmortals and wait until they give us also shuttles to them.

For free, of course. They need it, not we do.

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11 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

Yeah, now that I check the math, it seems you would need something with more umph to compete with a nuclear thermal rocket. The NERVA XE Prime had a total dry mass of 18 tonnes and it produced over 1000 MW.

It’s physics-breaking so it is better than a nuclear saltwater rocket in that sense, but as described it would be nigh-impossible to get the kind of thrust or specific impulse out of it that Zubrin’s dragon breath rocket can boast. 

 

What if we somehow managed to make the NIF laser fire continously through the portal?

That is 500 terawatts (if I read correctly) of power going into the exhaust!

 

How would that compare to NSWR?

 

Still not good enough?

 

How in the world do we make the NIF laser fire continously at 500 terawatts? Do we even know how... or is that just wishful scifi hope?

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2 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

What if we somehow managed to make the NIF laser fire continously through the portal?

That is 500 terawatts (if I read correctly) of power going into the exhaust!

How would that compare to NSWR?

Still not good enough?

To be clear, it is MORE than good enough. You can colonize Mars and the Moon using current tech easily enough, if you can get Congress to fund it. You don't need a nuclear saltwater rocket.

That being said, Zubrin's 13 meganewton design would boast about 0.8 terawatts of power at full thrust. So yeah, if you could make the NIF laser fire continuously through the portal, then you could produce a power output 625 greater than Zubrin's design.

But of course you can't make the NIF laser fire continously, so......?????

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6 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

That is 500 terawatts (if I read correctly) of power going into the exhaust!

NIF laser does output 500 TW at peak, but since it can fire for only a fraction of a second, total energy delivered is not nearly as mindboggling. It's "only" 1,8 MJ, which is not even enough to boil away 1 L of water that has previously been heated up to 100 °C.

And no, you can't make NIF laser fire continuously. Not only is the laser not designed to operate in such a way, but the instantaneous power is several orders of magnitude higher than the total USA world power production. So, even if you could somehow deliver that power to the laser, which you obviously can't, there is not enough production available, by a long shot.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

To be clear, it is MORE than good enough. You can colonize Mars and the Moon using current tech easily enough, if you can get Congress to fund it. You don't need a nuclear saltwater rocket.

That being said, Zubrin's 13 meganewton design would boast about 0.8 terawatts of power at full thrust. So yeah, if you could make the NIF laser fire continuously through the portal, then you could produce a power output 625 greater than Zubrin's design.

But of course you can't make the NIF laser fire continously, so......?????

 

Too bad.

 

Well if we could fire the NIF continously through the portal, I think 500 terawatts may be more than the engine can handle anyway without melting.

 

 

Right?

Sure I know propellant ejects the waste heat, but once the energy ejected is high enough the little energy the engine does absorb may be too much to handle.

Kind of like the fictional 99% torch rocket whose 1% waste heat is so high it forces it to use massive radiator fins.

 

I am not sure if 500 terawatts going off in the combustion chamber without destroying it is possible.

 

You would probably need magnetics.

 

And now we are back to fusion tech LOL.

Edited by Spacescifi
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45 minutes ago, Spacescifi said:

 

I am not sure if 500 terawatts going off in the combustion chamber without destroying it is possible.

 

You would probably need magnetics.

Did you not understand my earlier post?

500 TW is more that entire worlds power production. Much much more. Continuously dissipating that much power in one small space would melt and vaporize any engine, along with anything in not so close vicinity.

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2 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

Well if we could fire the NIF continously through the portal, I think 500 terawatts may be more than the engine can handle anyway without melting.

Right?

Sure I know propellant ejects the waste heat, but once the energy ejected is high enough the little energy the engine does absorb may be too much to handle.

There is no limit to waste heat ejection capacity in a thermal rocket. You just design an engine that is large enough to provide the desired flow path and rate for the heat capacity of the propellant you are using.

That being said, @Shpaget is absolutely correct; 500 terawatts is nearly thirty times the continuous human and industrial power consumption across our entire planet, from all energy sources. Suggesting the use of a continuous 500-terawatt laser (which would NOT be the NIF laser, because the NIF laser cannot do that) is kind of like suggesting the use of Saturn's moon Rhea as a bowling ball. It's just not a scale that makes any sense.

For reference, the F-1 engine had a peak power output of 23 gigawatts. A thermal rocket engine large enough to provide a propellant flow path and flow rate necessary to handle 500 terawatts could be theoretically built, but it would weigh around 183,000 tonnes, 75% heavier than the world's largest aircraft carrier, and it would have a nozzle approximately 21% larger than the entire Pentagon complex.

pentagon-engine.png

NOTE: this does NOT mean that we would want to build one of these....because, again, we don't have that kind of power source.

If the rings each have a mass of two tonnes and you want to use them as the powerplant for a thermal rocket engine, then the associated mass of the heating chamber and nozzle would be in the range of the F-1 engine. So you would need a power source producing around 23 gigawatts to match the power output of the F-1. That's just a little bit higher than the power output of the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, the Three Gorges.

You would then need a way to convert all the power output of that dam into light and somehow focus that light into a 5-meter-wide circle, and boom, there you go.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, sevenperforce said:

There is no limit to waste heat ejection capacity in a thermal rocket. You just design an engine that is large enough to provide the desired flow path and rate for the heat capacity of the propellant you are using.

That being said, @Shpaget is absolutely correct; 500 terawatts is nearly thirty times the continuous human and industrial power consumption across our entire planet, from all energy sources. Suggesting the use of a continuous 500-terawatt laser (which would NOT be the NIF laser, because the NIF laser cannot do that) is kind of like suggesting the use of Saturn's moon Rhea as a bowling ball. It's just not a scale that makes any sense.

For reference, the F-1 engine had a peak power output of 23 gigawatts. A thermal rocket engine large enough to provide a propellant flow path and flow rate necessary to handle 500 terawatts could be theoretically built, but it would weigh around 183,000 tonnes, 75% heavier than the world's largest aircraft carrier, and it would have a nozzle approximately 21% larger than the entire Pentagon complex.

pentagon-engine.png

NOTE: this does NOT mean that we would want to build one of these....because, again, we don't have that kind of power source.

If the rings each have a mass of two tonnes and you want to use them as the powerplant for a thermal rocket engine, then the associated mass of the heating chamber and nozzle would be in the range of the F-1 engine. So you would need a power source producing around 23 gigawatts to match the power output of the F-1. That's just a little bit higher than the power output of the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, the Three Gorges.

You would then need a way to convert all the power output of that dam into light and somehow focus that light into a 5-meter-wide circle, and boom, there you go.

 

Thanks.

 

Before you posted the latest, I had begun to suspect what you confirmed... the inverse square law tends to be inverted when it comes to high energy.

Want to handle a high flow rate for a super energetic rocket?

You must build it bigger. Much bigger. The engine and the nozzle and everything really. The bigger your ship is the more heat you can take and thus the more powerful engine you can use.

 

But yeah... you just confirmed doing the NIF laser continously is virtually impossible.... though one could do it in theory using sufficient dams and water power if you could convert (hard part) much of it into laser zapping.

 

Conclusion: Any honest to goodness torchship would be massive by necessity.

 

And the classic starships that warp from system to system?

Assuming they are not drawing there power from 'beyond' then they would have to be much larger still

That pic you showed me would be nothing compared to the size of an FTL jump/warp ship dependent on it's own power only.

 

 

More practical sizes can be had by just learning to love the pusher plate orion... the classic torch drive is just less efficient the more energetic it becomes, whereas the Orion becomes more efficient until you also have to scale it up to not melt it.

 

So Orions really do beat torchships for efficiency, especially when you are forced to scale up or else.

A torchship with equal delta v and thryst to an Orion would likely be larger abd heavier still.

 

So Orions, in either nuclear, pure fusion, AM or some other method have a more promising future ahead so far.... even though pop scifi is stuck on torchships like they are the best and only way.

 

They are not. They are less efficient.

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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On 7/27/2021 at 6:47 AM, sevenperforce said:

Oh, I absolutely would love to play along. I was being snarky. I just need to know whether these are portals with an area of five square meters or a diameter of five meters. It makes a big difference. Also, how much does each portal weigh? Also very important.

Are the portals indestructible? Because if they are, I propose yeeting them into a low solar orbit. Put the pair portal underwater in the ocean and run a steam turbine. Absolutely massive power production capability. Unlimited free energy everywhere within 100 miles of any major body of water.

Of course we will probably be contributing to anthropogenic climate change at that point, but we can stop using fossil fuels, so that should help.

You don't need a laser at all because the light doesn't need to be coherent. You mount one portal inside some super hot industrial furnace. You mount the other portal inside your combustion chamber and pipe liquid hydrogen directly into the chamber. Not a torchship, but close enough to one that we can easily colonize half a dozen worlds within fifty years.

I will say for the record that if you allow for lightspeed delay and a few other things, I **think** that you could create pair portals like this without violating any of the laws of physics.

Obviously we don't know of any way to create one, but a black-box pair portal that allows radiation transmission as described wouldn't necessarily violate any laws. 

It would make for a cool science fiction story if some social media mogul tried to create "instant communication" portals using entangled particles so that you could have a "window" into another part of the world, and then someone clever thought about using them for energy transfer.

Drop one portal down on the surface of Venus, aim the other against alpha centauri, it helps teraforming it as an bonus. Drop some others into the mariana trench and equal number on land feeding an hydro plant who make three gorges dam look like an hobby project. 
For the rest, well you have an stargate everywhere, now I want one on Venus connected to Mars asap as it help teraform both. 
Asteroid mining get way easier then you have an rail line to the asteroid. 

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15 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Drop one portal down on the surface of Venus, aim the other against alpha centauri, it helps teraforming it as an bonus. Drop some others into the mariana trench and equal number on land feeding an hydro plant who make three gorges dam look like an hobby project. 
For the rest, well you have an stargate everywhere, now I want one on Venus connected to Mars asap as it help teraform both. 
Asteroid mining get way easier then you have an rail line to the asteroid. 

Oh this would have been one of my first ideas, except that my understanding of the OP was that the portals only allow photons to pass through, not baryonic matter.

1 hour ago, Spacescifi said:

But yeah... you just confirmed doing the NIF laser continously is virtually impossible.... though one could do it in theory using sufficient dams and water power if you could convert (hard part) much of it into laser zapping.

Conclusion: Any honest to goodness torchship would be massive by necessity.

No, not at all.

You can get the equivalent of an F-1 engine power output in an engine the size of the F-1 simply by hooking up the power of a giant hydroelectric dam to one of the portals. It's really quite straightforward.

You don't need it to be big at all.

1 hour ago, Spacescifi said:

More practical sizes can be had by just learning to love the pusher plate orion... the classic torch drive is just less efficient the more energetic it becomes

No, it becomes more efficient the more energetic it becomes.

If we had magic photon portals, building Orion drives would be the absolute last thing anyone would suggest.

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25 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Oh this would have been one of my first ideas, except that my understanding of the OP was that the portals only allow photons to pass through, not baryonic matter.

No, not at all.

You can get the equivalent of an F-1 engine power output in an engine the size of the F-1 simply by hooking up the power of a giant hydroelectric dam to one of the portals. It's really quite straightforward.

You don't need it to be big at all.

No, it becomes more efficient the more energetic it becomes.

If we had magic photon portals, building Orion drives would be the absolute last thing anyone would suggest.

Orion will always be more energetic than a rocket, so it is more efficient at being a torchship.

 

And Orions still matter here.

Laser induced fusion via portal means you no longer need a fission trigger. No more bombs needed.

 

Just fuel you can zap into fusion blasts to push you along.

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