Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Proposal To Use Lasers To Analyze Asteroids

A novel concept for determining the composition of distant asteroids has been proposed to NASA by Gary Hughes of California Polytechnic State University.

I say that it is a "novel concept" because it was suggested almost sixty years ago by science fiction writer EC Tubb.

But let's take a look at the current proposal first.


(At 27':00' - Molecular Composition Analysis of Distant Targets)

We propose a system capable of probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets such as asteroids, comets, planets and moons from a distant vantage. Our concept utilizes a directed energy beam to vaporize or sublimate a spot on a distant target, such as from a spacecraft near the object. With sufficient flux, our published results indicate that the spot temperature rises rapidly, and evaporation of materials on the target surface occurs (Hughes et al., 2015; Lubin and Hughes, 2015; Lubin et al., 2014).

The melted spot serves as a high-temperature blackbody source, and ejected material creates a molecular plume in front of the spot. Molecular and atomic absorption of the blackbody radiation occurs within the ejected plume. Bulk composition of the surface material is investigated by using a spectrometer to view the heated spot through the ejected material. We envision a spacecraft that could be sent to probe the composition of a target asteroid, comet or other planetary body while orbiting the targeted object. The spacecraft would be equipped with an array of lasers and a spectrometer, powered by photovoltaics. Spatial composition maps could be created by scanning the directed energy beam across the surface.

Applying the laser beam to a single spot continuously produces a borehole, and shallow sub-surface composition profiling is also possible. Our initial simulations of laser heating, plume opacity, material absorption profiles and spectral detectivity show promise for molecular composition analysis. Such a system has compelling potential benefit for solar system exploration by establishing the capability to directly interrogate the bulk composition of objects from a distant vantage. We propose to develop models, execute preliminary feasibility analysis, and specify a spacecraft system architecture for a hypothetical mission that seeks to perform surface molecular composition analysis and mapping of a near-earth asteroid (NEA) while the craft orbits the asteroid.

SF writer Edwin Charles Tubb wrote about a similar strategy for determining the composition of asteroids in detail in his 1958 novel The Mechanical Monarch:

Fire streaked in a thin line from the muzzle of a cannon-like tube mounted beneath the viewing instruments and a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour, and Wendis stared thoughtfully at the brilliant lines on the spectroscope screen.

"... the spectro shows traces of iron, some copper, a little tungsten and a lot of beryllium. Looks unnatural somehow, too much like an alloy."
(Read more about the Impactor Determines Composition)

Via Molecular Composition Analysis of Distant Targets (NASA).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/29/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1953.

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.' - Dom Passante, 1939.

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1961.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'

Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'

BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.