Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-c97xr Total loading time: 0.282 Render date: 2022-05-28T20:34:30.959Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Slingshot dynamics for self-replicating probes and the effect on exploration timescales

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2013

Arwen Nicholson*
Affiliation:
Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, UK
Duncan Forgan
Affiliation:
Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, UK

Abstract

Interstellar probes can carry out slingshot manoeuvres around the stars they visit, gaining a boost in velocity by extracting energy from the star's motion around the Galactic Centre. These manoeuvres carry little to no extra energy cost, and in previous work it has been shown that a single Voyager-like probe exploring the Galaxy does so 100 times faster when carrying out these slingshots than when navigating purely by powered flight (Forgan et al. 2012). We expand on these results by repeating the experiment with self-replicating probes. The probes explore a box of stars representative of the local Solar neighbourhood, to investigate how self-replication affects exploration timescales when compared with a single non-replicating probe. We explore three different scenarios of probe behaviour: (i) standard powered flight to the nearest unvisited star (no slingshot techniques used), (ii) flight to the nearest unvisited star using slingshot techniques and (iii) flight to the next unvisited star that will give the maximum velocity boost under a slingshot trajectory. In all three scenarios, we find that as expected, using self-replicating probes greatly reduces the exploration time, by up to three orders of magnitude for scenarios (i) and (iii) and two orders of magnitude for (ii). The second case (i.e. nearest-star slingshots) remains the most time effective way to explore a population of stars. As the decision-making algorithms for the fleet are simple, unanticipated ‘race conditions’ among probes are set up, causing the exploration time of the final stars to become much longer than necessary. From the scaling of the probes' performance with star number, we conclude that a fleet of self-replicating probes can indeed explore the Galaxy in a sufficiently short time to warrant the existence of the Fermi Paradox.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Almár, I. (2011). Acta Astronaut. (UK) 69, 899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benford, G., Benford, J. & Benford, D. (2010a). Astrobiology 10, 491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benford, J., Benford, G. & Benford, D. (2010b). Astrobiology 10, 475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bjørk, R. (2007). Int. J. Astrobiol. 6, 89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bracewell, R.N. (1960). Nature 186, 670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brin, G.D. (1983). QJRAS 24, 283.Google Scholar
Cantril, H. (1940). The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic. Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, USA and London, UK.Google Scholar
Cartin, D. (2013). Int. J. Astrobiol., in press.Google Scholar
Chyba, C.F. & Hand, K.P. (2005). ARA&A 43, 31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cirkovic, M.M. (2009). Serb. Astron. J. 178, 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cotta, C. & Morales, A. (2009). J. Br. Interplanet. Soc. 62, 82.Google Scholar
Dyson, F.J. (1963). Gravitational machines, In Interstellar Communication, ed. Cameron, A.G.W., pp. 115120. Benjamin Press, New York.Google Scholar
Forgan, D. & Nichol, R. (2010). Int. J. Astrobiol. 10, 77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Forgan, D.H., Papadogiannakis, S. & Kitching, T. (2012). J. Br. Interplanet. Soc, in press.Google Scholar
Freitas, R.A. (1980). J. Br. Interplanet. Soc. 33, 251.Google Scholar
Freitas, R.A. (1983a). Br. Interplanet. Soc. 36, 496.Google Scholar
Freitas, R.A. (1983b). Br. Interplanet. Soc. 36, 501.Google Scholar
Golden, B. & Assad, A. (eds) (1988). Vehicle Routing: Methods and Studies, vol.16 of Studies in Management Science and Systems. North-Holland, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
Gurzadyan, G.A. (1996). Theory of Interplanetary Flights. Gordon and Breach, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
Hart, M.H. (1975). QJRAS 16, 128.Google Scholar
Horvat, M., Nakić, A. & Otočan, I. (2011). Int. J. Astrobiol. 11, 51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Karam, G. & Buhr, R. (1990). IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng. 16, 829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lineweaver, C. (2001). Icarus 151, 307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lineweaver, C.H., Fenner, Y. & Gibson, B.K. (2004). Science 303, 59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loeb, A. & Turner, E.L. (2012). Astrobiology 12, 290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sagan, C. & Newman, W.I. (1983). QJRAS 24, 113.Google Scholar
Shostak, S. & Almar, I. (2002). in 34th COSPAR Scientific Assembly, Second World Space Congress, pp. IAA–9–1–06.Google Scholar
Surdin, V.G. (1986). Astron. Vestn. (Russia) 19, 354.Google Scholar
Tipler, F.J. (1980). QJRAS 21, 267.Google Scholar
Toth, P. & Vigo, D. (eds) (2001). The Vehicle Routing Problem, Vol. 9. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PN.Google Scholar
Webb, S. (2002). If the Universe is Teeming with Aliens– where is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life, Springer, New York, p. 288, please see: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002iuta.book.....W.Google Scholar
Wiley, K.B. (2011). arXiv e-prints 1111.6131.Google Scholar
21
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Slingshot dynamics for self-replicating probes and the effect on exploration timescales
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Slingshot dynamics for self-replicating probes and the effect on exploration timescales
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Slingshot dynamics for self-replicating probes and the effect on exploration timescales
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *