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

 

Gas Mining on Uranus

Project Icarus is a five-year study aimed at launching an unmanned spacecraft to an interstellar destination. The Tau Zero Foundation and British Interplanetary Society believe that one possible source for fuel would be deuterium; rare on Earth, but if we look around in the solar system, we might just find a better supply.

However, there is a surprising amount of helium-3 in the gas giant planets of the outer solar system, and in the original 1978 "Project Daedalus" report Bob Parkinson suggested mining it via floating robotic factories in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Since then a different planet has moved to the forefront of gas-mining plans because it lacks Jupiter's intense gravity, Saturn's gigantic rings of orbital debris and is closer than distant Neptune.

You guessed it; the best helium-3 supply in the solar system is from the "Gas Mines" of Uranus.

That the planet which is the butt of so many poor jokes should be relatively rich in methane as well is purely coincidental, but as a mining site it has several advantages. The surface gravity, which is defined from the 1 bar pressure level in a gas giant's atmosphere, is 90 percent that of Earth's and the speed needed to reach low orbit is lowest of all the gas planets. Uranus's rings are also high, thin and not showering the atmosphere below with a hail of meteors, unlike Saturn's.

Accessing the gas riches of Uranus will require nuclear power, however. Designs exist for nuclear powered ramjets that could fly indefinitely in the atmospheres of the gas giants -- this might prove a viable means of keeping an extraction factory aloft. Else we'll be back to using balloons like "Project Daedalus," serviced by nuclear ramjets.

SF fans fondly remember the gas mines of Bespin, administered from Cloud City.

Cloud City is an installation on the planet Bespin, first seen in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Bespin has a habitable layer from about 150 - 180 kilometers down from space with an oxygen atmosphere and normal pressure.


(Cloud City above Bespin in Star Wars)

Read more at Discovery.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/3/2011)

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 ( 4 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

The Far Side Of The Moon, By NASA (2015) And By PAUL (1932)
"We had leisure to make a thorough observation of the hidden side of earth's satellite."

Sierra Space Inflatable LIFE Habitat Burst Pressure Test
'It was like being inside a balloon...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1961.

Space-Based Solar Power A Priority - European Space Agency
'...vast man-made disk of metal set spinning about the sun to supply the Earth with power.'

Goldilocks Zones Found On The Moon
Hopefully, there are no Mynocks in shadowed lunar craters, chewing on the power cables of spacecraft...

 

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

The Far Side Of The Moon, By NASA (2015) And By PAUL (1932)
"We had leisure to make a thorough observation of the hidden side of earth's satellite."

LoadRunner Robot Works Alone, Or In A Group
'They marched in unison, seven of them...'

Sierra Space Inflatable LIFE Habitat Burst Pressure Test
'It was like being inside a balloon...'

Longest Immersed Tunnel Will Connect Denmark and Germany
'... iron tubes... the ends of the tubes were joined to each other...to preserve it from the action of the seawater.'

Alcohol-Sensing Cars - NTSB Catches Up With Philip K. Dick (1963)
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive....'

Solar-Powered Remote-Control Cockroaches!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.'

SolarBotanic Tree For Solar Energy - Would You Need A Forest, Or Just One?
'The slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector...'

Metaverse Hardware - Run And Flail Like A Maniac, Or Lie Quietly?
'Holodeck 4 was waiting to be programmed...'

Robot Food Delivery Coming To Campus Near You
'... he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'

Are Craiyon Images Puddinged, ala Philip K. Dick?
'I stood in line for half an hour for this, and it's just a blob!'

Hip'Safe Airbag For Seniors, From Helite
'Other airbags go off around her torso and pelvis...'

Soulaje Self-Administered Euthanasia Wearable Prototype
'A young man... advanced with nervous strides along the gravel path which leads to the bronze doors of the Lethal Chamber.'

Midjourney AI Creates 'Théâtre D'opéra Spatial', Wins Art Fair First Prize
'... we'll give him in his brain what he needs for creation.'

Mobot Robot Tests Smartphone Apps With Its Finger
'Rapidly, purposefully, the metallic fingers moved over the key-boards...'

Space-Based Solar Power A Priority - European Space Agency
'...vast man-made disk of metal set spinning about the sun to supply the Earth with power.'

Goldilocks Zones Found On The Moon
Hopefully, there are no Mynocks in shadowed lunar craters, chewing on the power cables of spacecraft...

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.