Moving Whole Planets, Revisited

In 2001, a trio of scientists (D. G. Korycansky, Gregory Laughlin and Fred C. Adams) were thinking ahead about the real global warming threat - the brightening of the sun over the next billion years or so. They proposed moving the Earth.

The Sun's gradual brightening will seriously compromise the Earth's biosphere within ~ 1E9 years. If Earth's orbit migrates outward, however, the biosphere could remain intact over the entire main-sequence lifetime of the Sun. In this paper, we explore the feasibility of engineering such a migration over a long time period. The basic mechanism uses gravitational assists to (in effect) transfer orbital energy from Jupiter to the Earth, and thereby enlarges the orbital radius of Earth. This transfer is accomplished by a suitable intermediate body, either a Kuiper Belt object or a main belt asteroid. The object first encounters Earth during an inward pass on its initial highly elliptical orbit of large (~ 300 AU) semimajor axis. The encounter transfers energy from the object to the Earth in standard gravity-assist fashion by passing close to the leading limb of the planet. The resulting outbound trajectory of the object must cross the orbit of Jupiter; with proper timing, the outbound object encounters Jupiter and picks up the energy it lost to Earth. With small corrections to the trajectory, or additional planetary encounters (e.g., with Saturn), the object can repeat this process over many encounters. To maintain its present flux of solar energy, the Earth must experience roughly one encounter every 6000 years (for an object mass of 1E22 g). We develop the details of this scheme and discuss its ramifications.

(Via Astronomical engineering: a strategy for modifying planetary orbits .)

Just recently, Tor put up an interesting article by James Davis Nicholl referencing this idea, with a smattering of science fiction references:

Has this ever happened to you? You’re living on a perfectly good planet in orbit around a perfectly acceptable star—and then suddenly, the neighbourhood goes to crap and you have to move...

Of course, this raises the question of how to do this without destroying the world. You could just slap rockets on one end of the planet (and at least one author did) but the side effects of that method could well be…undesirable. Authors have wrestled with the problem and come up with answers ranging from the utterly implausible to the somewhat less plausible.

(Via Tor.)

I'd argue that it was really golden age great Edmond Hamilton who had the idea, since he wrote about steering a star in his 1928 classic Crashing Suns.

You could also argue that Jack Williamson gets a piece of this, since he told us how to use an asteroid rocket to move an asteroid in his 1933 story Salvage in Space.

Hamilton also wrote about moving planets in his 1934 story Thundering Worlds, describing planetary propulsion-blasts. His story was just a couple of months behind E.E. 'Doc' Smith, who wrote about moving a planet in his renowned classic Triplanetary.

Robert Heinlein got some good mileage from this idea in one of his earliest short stories; see how to move an asteroid from his 1939 story Misfit.

And while you're thinking about it, don't forget the barytrine field from George O. Smith's 1952 story Troubled Star, as well as the Puppeteer's Kemplerer (Klemperer) Rosette in Larry Niven's 1970 classic Ringworld.

Thanks to @nyrath for tweeting about this article.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/18/2018)

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 ")

NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'

Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.' - F.E. Hardart, 1941.

Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.' - Robert Heinlein, 1942.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Via Virtual Reality, Mother Encounters Deceased Daughter
'But that barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Clothes That Do Photosyntheisis
'Clothes are no longer made from dead fibers of fixed color and texture...'

Stratuscent Electronic Nose
'It's picking up diphenyl compounds and tetra hydrocarbons.'

CIMON Companion Robot For Space Station Astronauts
'... in some departments their power is absolute.'

Qbit Robot Bartender Also Makes Coffee
'...he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.'

Moving Desks Not SciFi After All
'Charged with hope, he zipped from stack to stack...'

Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).

Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'

Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'

Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'

The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'

Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'

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.