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Fraser
2006-Apr-19, 07:16 PM
SUMMARY: If you're looking to build a powerful spaceship, nothing's better than antimatter. It's lightweight, extremely powerful and could generate tremendous velocity. However, it's enormously expensive to create, volatile, and releases torrents of destructive gamma rays. NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts is funding a team of researchers to try and design an antimatter-powered spacecraft that could avoid some of those problems.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/antimatter_mars.html)
What do you think about this story? post your comments below.

Eta C
2006-Apr-19, 08:07 PM
There are many hurdles this concept needs to overcome. They're not insurmountable, but they are enough to make this concept impractical for a long time to come.

1) You've got to make the antimatter in the first place. After all, it's not something you pump out of the ground. Right now the only places that create antimatter are large accelerators such as Fermilab, SLAC, CERN and others.

2) Creating antimatter will consume a lot of energy in and of itself. Anti-matter isn't going to solve energy problems. Actual anti-atoms have been made in very small numbers, but nothing near what would be required to power a spaceship.

3) Storing the material is another problem. Right now accelerator storage rings store antimatter in the form of relatively sparse bunches of positrons or anti-electrons. It's questionable whether this would be a practical form on a space ship. Some kind of electromagnetic confinement is necessary since the antimatter fuel needs to be isolated from the rest of the plain matter spaceship. Laser cooling and inertial confinement might also work.

Bottom line. This is still a gigantic speculation and, IMO, barely above ZPE, cold fusion, and other such "alternative" energy sources. It differs the others in being based on solid science, so I guess some initial, low level, research is warrented. However, at this stage antimatter propulsion is still in the "6.0" world of basic research as the military would say. Tying it to a manned Mars mission is highly dubious at this point and smacks of marketing. Such a mission is hard enough without trying to develop such a radically different power source.

trinitree88
2006-Apr-19, 09:47 PM
Eta-C, Agreed. Very doubtful technology with immense containment issues. A few milligrams leak and the crew has Chernobyl-like radiation exposure...if the space craft survives at all. Containment as charged particles involves cyclotron circulation...as neutral atoms...Penning traps. Tricky, expensive, far from 100% safe.:shifty:

antoniseb
2006-Apr-19, 10:09 PM
You've got to make the antimatter in the first place. After all, it's not something you pump out of the ground.

I agree with most of what you wrote above, however, there is a NASA project exploring the collection of positrons in the magnetosphere. This is long term, but the notion is that there would be a lot of them in Jupiter's magnetosphere.

Gerald Lukaniuk
2006-Apr-20, 01:24 AM
Recent studies at York university confirmed the at least on matter particle oscillates back and forth between matter and anti matter. Combine with indications of positive weight of anti matter hydrogen atoms it has been postulated that matter and the antimatter we know are opposite sides of the same coin. (In addition, we still need to look for real antimatter). It is conceivable that accelerators are not really needed to produce anti-matter. Perhaps a nano type device could produce small amount as needed for fuel from a safer precursor. I think there is actually a DiLithium “something”(bromate,oxide,sulfide?) that actually seem to have energy channeling properties. Warp 7 anyone?

diederick76
2006-Apr-20, 08:26 AM
Recent studies at York university confirmed (...) Warp 7 anyone?

Annotations please?

kashi
2006-Apr-20, 08:26 AM
One more instance of Star Trek lingo that we can use in real life (even if it is far fetched)!

Eta C
2006-Apr-20, 12:36 PM
Recent studies at York university confirmed the at least on matter particle oscillates back and forth between matter and anti matter. Combine with indications of positive weight of anti matter hydrogen atoms it has been postulated that matter and the antimatter we know are opposite sides of the same coin. (In addition, we still need to look for real antimatter). It is conceivable that accelerators are not really needed to produce anti-matter. Perhaps a nano type device could produce small amount as needed for fuel from a safer precursor. I think there is actually a DiLithium “something”(bromate,oxide,sulfide?) that actually seem to have energy channeling properties. Warp 7 anyone?

Gerald is referring to recent D0 and CDF (experiments at Fermilab) results on the oscillations of the B sub s meson. This was discussed in another recent thread in the General Science forum (just to point out, the York university physicists did not do this work on their own despite what Gerald seems to say. They are members of a 500+ physicist collaboration). The idea of certain neutral particles oscillating between their particle and antiparticle state is nothing new. We've known about this in the neutral kaon system since the 60's. The measurement of the ** oscillations was significant as it set a new level of accuracy in this measurement and allowed better determination of some of the paramaters of the Standard Model.

To use this effect to generate spaceship power is much more far fetched than the one discussed in the UT article. First you've got to produce the **. Then you've got to store them (harder for a neutral particle like the ** than for a charged one like a positron or antiproton). Then you've got to separate out the ones that become antiparticles. Of course, the real problem is that the ** (and the neutral K and the Ds) aren't stable. They will decay within microseconds of being produced. That will certainly limit the range of any spaceship trying to use them for power. This is an idea for the far distant future and not really worth investigation as a power source for the present time.

astro-orange
2006-Apr-20, 01:13 PM
So we have to be content with chemical and solar or nuclear electric...for Mars --
but if we want to visit a quasar, we have to use billions or trillions of tons of matter/antimatter ;-)
Maybe Humankind is less far away from traveling to other stars or even other galaxies than we are from Magellan and Columbus.
Something like that was also written by Dr. Harry O. Ruppe (not a TV detective :-) but a spaceflight scientist, once a co-worker of Wernher von Braun). As long as SOME people fund basic research...

antoniseb
2006-Apr-20, 01:51 PM
if we want to visit a quasar, we have to use billions or trillions of tons of matter/antimatter

If we want to visit a quasar, we'll just have to deal with another kind of wanting that will never be satisfied. Even the core of M87, which may or may not be a quasar pointing in a different direction, is so far away that we will never choose to go there. Fortunately, it will be possible to build instruments that can see it in detail without us having to go there.

Romanus
2006-Apr-20, 03:01 PM
I think this is really cool, if it's workable. What--$250 million for a few milligrams of positron matter? Assuming we could contain it and utilize it, that means we could make enough AM to send a large payload to Mars for less than the cost of the two MERs. If the price goes down, so much the better.

No bones about it--if we ever get out of the Solar System, it will be because of AM propulsion. That is, if fusion proves to be a unviable power (let alone propulsion) source.

Gerald Lukaniuk
2006-Apr-20, 07:31 PM
[QUOTE=Eta C]Gerald is referring to recent D0 and CDF (experiments at Fermilab) results on the oscillations of the B sub s meson. This was discussed in another recent thread in the General Science forum (just to point out, the York university physicists did not do this work on their own despite what Gerald seems to say. They are members of a 500+ physicist collaboration). The idea of certain neutral particles oscillating between their particle and antiparticle state is nothing new. We've known about this in the neutral kaon system since the 60's. The measurement of the ** oscillations was significant as it set a new level of accuracy in this measurement and allowed better determination of some of the paramaters of the Standard Model.

My apologies if I implied that York U. was responsible solely for this amazing breakthrough is irresponsible than to say Einstein is solely responsible for relativity. I've worked with some of these physicists at their Center for Space and Terrestrial Sciences and noted that Photonics Magazine ran their press release. The Nasa press release curiously followed shortly after and reflects the type of 19th century industrial linear thinking that goes one there. This ofcourse reached it's height in the Hubble telescope when nobody had the foresight to conceive computers muight get smaller and cheaper or that optical components should be matched on earth not in space.
"Neutral particle" that oscillates in and out of reality makes no sense in pure physics and to say any phenomenon is rarely observed or known about for 30 yearsis myopic and egocentric and reeks of pandering to big business. Atoms were rarely photographed until recently, gravity waves have yet to be observed but must be everywhere all the time. Increasing the accuracy of a measurement both solidifies the reality of the process and opens alternative technological pathways. More accurate electronic resonance frequencies have simplied lasers down to a bake on paint. We should be strongly optimistic that this phenomenon is both widespread and will become commercially viable or we will continue to be sold over-designed clunkers like tha anti-matter rocket.

erich
2006-Apr-21, 01:25 AM
Nasa should come down to Earth and Look at this cost effective technology.
Aneutronic Fusion: Here I am not talking about the big science ITER project taking thirty years, but the several small alternative plasma fusion efforts.

.There are three companies pursuing hydrogen-boron plasma toroid fusion, Paul Koloc, Prometheus II, Eric Lerner, Focus Fusion and Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems http://www.electronpowersystems.com/ . A resent DOD review of EPS technology reads as follows:

"MIT considers these plasmas a revolutionary breakthrough, with Delphi's
chief scientist and senior manager for advanced technology both agreeing
that EST/SPT physics are repeatable and theoretically explainable. MIT and
EPS have jointly authored numerous professional papers describing their
work. (Delphi is a $33B company, the spun off Delco Division of General
Motors)."
and
"Cost: no cost data available. The complexity of reliable mini-toroid
formation and acceleration with compact, relatively low-cost equipment
remains to be determined. Yet the fact that the EPS/MIT STTR work this
technology has attracted interest from Delphi is very significant, as the
automotive electronics industry is considered to be extremely demanding of
functionality per dollar and pound (e.g., mil-spec performance at
Wal-Mart-class 'commodity' prices)."

EPS, Electron Power Systems seems the strongest and most advanced, and I love the scalability, They propose applications as varied as home power generation@ .ooo5 cents/KWhr, cars, distributed power, airplanes, space propulsion , power storage and kinetic weapons.

It also provides a theoretic base for ball lighting : Ball Lightning Explained as a Stable Plasma Toroid http://www.electronpowersystems.com/Images/Ball%20Lightning%20Explained.pdf
The theoretics are all there in peer reviewed papers. It does sound to good to be true however with names like MIT, Delphi, STTR grants, NIST grants , etc., popping up all over, I have to keep investigating.

Recent support has also come from one of the top lightning researcher in the world, Joe Dwyer at FIT, when he got his Y-ray and X-ray research published in the May issue of Scientific American,
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=00032CE5-13B7-1264-8F9683414B7FFE9F
Dwyer's paper:
http://www.lightning.ece.ufl.edu/PDF/Gammarays.pdf

and according to Clint Seward it supports his lightning models and fusion work at Electron Power Systems

Clint sent Joe and I his new paper on a lightning charge transport model of cloud to ground lightning (he did not want me to post it to the web yet). Joe was supportive and suggested some other papers to consider and Clint is now in re-write.

It may also explain Elves, blue jets, sprites and red sprites, plasmas that appear above thunder storms. After a little searching, this seemed to have the best hard numbers on the observations of sprites.And may also explain the spiral twist of some fulgurites, hollow fused sand tubes found in sandy ground at lightning strikes.


lightning produces thermonuclear reaction
This new work By Dr.Kuzhevsky on neutrons in lightning: Russian Science News http://www.informnauka.ru/eng/2005/2005-09-13-5_65_e.htm is also supportive of Electron Power Systems fusion efforts .



Vincent Page (a technology officer at GE!!) gave a presentation at the 05 6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research , which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion (Below Is an excerpt).
He quotes costs and time to development of P-B11 Fusion as tens of million $, and years verses the many decades and ten Billion plus $ projected for ITER and other "Big" science efforts:


"for larger plant sizes
Time to small-scale Cost to achieve net if the small-scale
Concept Description net energy production energy concept works:
Koloc Spherical Plasma: 10 years(time frame), $25 million (cost), 80%(chance of success)
Field Reversed Configuration: 8 years $75 million 60%
Plasma Focus: 6 years $18 million 80%"

The learning curve is so steep now, and with the resources of the online community, I'm sure we can rally greater support to solve this paramount problem of our time. I hold no truck with those who argue that big business or government are suppressing these technologies. It is only our complacency and comfort that blind us from pushing our leaders toward clean energy.


This post is a plea to at least look at the low cost and high rewards that are offered in aneutronic fusion, the P-B11 efforts, Eric Lerner's Billion degree temperatures and x-ray source project, Clint Seward's lightning theories, and DOD review, and Paul Kolac's review by GE. The minimal cost and time frame for even the possibility of this leap forward seems criminal not to pursue. I am wondering why this technology has never been put in the public eye.
My hope is that someone, more skilled, would step up to give a shout out about these technologies. Please contact me for copies of my correspondence with the principles, interesting replies and criticisms from physics discussion forums and academic physicists who have replied to my queries.

Thanks for any help


shengar@aol.com

Erich J. Knight

astromark
2006-Apr-21, 08:15 AM
Just connect this to that and . . .FOP! Oops.

I would not be suggesting we don't research all these possible methods of quicker propulsion. We must.

As previously stated containment is the worry. Just one error and the whole of planet Earth disappears in a cloud of whatever. . . .

Get of this planet first. Experiment on the moon. I will watch from home . . .

Jef Spalding
2006-Apr-21, 05:26 PM
No matter how you reduce, figure, or conceptualize it, we need to do something long term for the benefit of humanity. Maybe antimatter research for space travel is a good start. With a soaring price tag in the billions in Iraq, the projected cost of 250 million for 10 milligrams sounds alot more reasonable even if it doesn't work. We can only benefit from the knowledge we will gain.

Grand_Lunar
2006-Apr-21, 08:10 PM
As great as such a propulsion is, we're way off from making it reality.

I'd give a century or two before we see such a drive system come into practice.

spaceman14
2006-Apr-23, 08:14 PM
Building an antimatter spacecraft is basically impossible. If the anti-matter came into contact with matter the explosion would wipe the craft, the crew, and a portion of the universe becuase the energy unleashed is a million times stronger than an atomic bomb.

erich
2006-Apr-23, 08:48 PM
The Air force seems to take the anti-matter seriously:

Air Force pursuing antimatter weapons / Program was touted publicly, then came
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/10/04/MNGM393GPK1.DTL

Erich

Eta C
2006-Apr-24, 12:34 PM
Speaking from the point of view of the Navy, why anyone takes the Air Force seriously is, of course, the actual question being posed here.

This is yet another example, IMO, of the press getting hold of some very basic research being done, extrapolating it, and adding some conspiracy on the way. Even if research is being done, don't expect to see any weapons based on this for at least 50, perhaps 70 years. The technological hurdles for storing large quantities of antimatter, as I outlined in my first post above, are too great to hope for anything to come out sooner. To reiterate:

1) You've got to make the antimatter in the first place. After all, it's not something you pump out of the ground. Right now the only places that create antimatter are large accelerators such as Fermilab, SLAC, CERN and others.

2) Creating antimatter will consume a lot of energy in and of itself. Anti-matter isn't going to solve energy problems. Actual anti-atoms have been made in very small numbers, but nothing near what would be required to power a spaceship.

3) Storing the material is another problem. Right now accelerator storage rings store antimatter in the form of relatively sparse bunches of positrons or anti-electrons. It's questionable whether this would be a practical form on a space ship. Some kind of electromagnetic confinement is necessary since the antimatter fuel needs to be isolated from the rest of the plain matter spaceship. Laser cooling and inertial confinement might also work.

GOURDHEAD
2006-Apr-24, 12:53 PM
I arbitrarily chose an Earth-Mars travel path of 0.6 AU and a 600 ton (545455 kg) ship including propellant to start the trip to Mars. The Mars arrival weight for the ship is 424963 kg including mass of the propellant needed for return to Earth. The mass of propellant consumed one way is 120492 kg or 240984 kg for a roundtrip for a ship plus payload mass of 304471 kg. This point solution requires 9000000000 watts constant power, propellant consumption rate of 0.050 kg/second at an exhaust velocity of 0.002c and takes approximately 28 days travel time to Mars not including Mars orbit insertion. Power consumption for orbit insertion will be trivial by comparison. Actual landing on the surface of Mars will probably be done using shuttles of much smaller mass carried as part of the payload on at least some of the trips. A ship of this mass will likely be assembled in Earth orbit and shouldn’t be used for take-off nor landing.

Each electron-positron annihilation produces 0.51e6 eV. One watt-second is equivalent to 6.241e15 eV. The production of 9e10 watts require the annihilation of 9e10 times 6.241e15 or 56.169e24 pair annihilations per second assuming 100% efficient conversion to thrust power. If we can achieve 50% efficiency, approximately 1.12e26 annihilations per second will do. Actual efficiency will be somewhat less than 50%. I’m not up to speed on what it takes in terms of kg of which elements and energy to produce positrons at this rate nor how many kg of shielding is required for reasonable crew protection. Perhaps some of you could help with this. Intuitively this seems inferior to collimated photon beamed power, but then you already know my bias. I am pleasantly astonished that the propellant mass requirement is as small as I computed.

The power requirement was computed using 0.5 propellant mass/second times exhaust speed squared (0.5q*Ve^2). Ve and q can be chosen to provide different power levels which will lead to different transit times and payload masses. The power requirement has not included that needed to operate the positron production nor containment equipment/environment. Crew accommodation and communication power is trivial by comparison (lost in the approximations used in the computations). To achieve the 0.002c Ve, linear particle accelerators will likely be used since the required level of thermodynamics would introduce additional hazards and material design difficulties. Power for the linear particle accelerator(s) has(ve) not been included. Also, no power source for getting the whole shebang started has been identified; I don't believe the particle annihilation process is self sustaining so we'll need to add the mass of a fission reactor and build a rock so large we can't lift it.

Back to "El Positrino", once we add the fission (or other) power source we should plan to deliver the power to ion engines and dispense with the anti-matter process. It becomes parasitic to the system. Not so if we can produce the positrons in an Earth or Mars lab and contain them sufficiently safely to get them aboard and operate on the Mars craft.

JMDurham
2006-Apr-25, 03:50 PM
that they are getting this all ready, because maybe if there was life on other planets, not saying there is, but it's possible, that maybe they have a cure for cancer, or maybe something else that we dont know about, and i think that maybe we need to use the antimatter to go to a more distant planet to collect the positrons, like stated above, because if somehow, we could collect a large amount of antimatter, then this could all be better than star wars, with the new flying cars coming out, and all this new technology coming out, then why dont we go explore with actual astronauts, instead of looking through a telescope, even arecibo, that just doesnt cut it for me, i think that there are things that we are not seeing using telescopes and satellites, that we could see better if we just went there, and plus, the atmosphere, im sure we all know that the atmosphere makes it harder to see space, and so there is another reason why this project should be done. so i am supporting it, and i hope it works out, because i want to see what jupiter and saturn is REALLY made of, that's another thing, how do we know that saturn and jupiter are gas, we have not been inside the atmosphere, we wouldnt know, there has to be something on the inside that is solid because something has to have gravity in the center to hold all the gases and the rings together, or maybe it's just another one of God's wonderful creations, that he did not want us to see, or find out, and maybe it should just be left alone.

I know this wasnt all about antimatter, once i got started i couldnt stop typing

antoniseb
2006-Apr-25, 03:58 PM
Hi JMDurham, welcome to the BAUT forum.


... i want to see what jupiter and saturn is REALLY made of, that's another thing, how do we know that saturn and jupiter are gas, we have not been inside the atmosphere...

You think it is not gas? The innermost part of the planet is unknown to us. Some people have said it could be metalic Hydrogen. It could be all sorts of things, but the reality is that whatever it is, it is inaccessable to us.

Daniel Grist
2006-May-01, 01:21 AM
Ok basic physics. gas has mass therefore if gas is collected in large amounts eg jupiter size gravity is inevitable. we look through telescopes because only either rich or lucky austronaughts go to space i would love to go to space in fact its my dream.
we should research diffrent propelants because in 26 years no more fuel = no more space program = end of humanity because remember without the ability to travel in space we are just waiting for something to happen which is unlikely infact improbable for a few billion years but if we are but one planet we want to spread and colonize new planets. knowledge is power so any yields or technological break throughs should be investigated to its fullest.