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The Solar Wind Power Satellite as an alternative to a traditional Dyson Sphere and its implications for remote detection

  • Brooks L. Harrop (a1) and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (a2)

The search for Dyson Spheres has been propelled not only by the hope of discovering intelligent alien life, but by humanity's ever-increasing need for energy. However, the Dyson Sphere is not a practical design, requiring too much matter to build and too much energy to stabilize. Here we discuss the various designs of a Dyson Sphere and propose the Solar Wind Power (SWP) Satellite, a simplistic, self-sustaining system that draws power from the solar wind and uses a laser to fire energy to collectors (on space stations, bases, etc.) positioned anywhere in the Solar System. While a small SWP Satellite can provide an estimated 2 MW of power, larger (or networks of) satellites could provide terawatts of power or more. The cost of the SWP Satellite would be relatively cheap – it primarily consists of shaped copper, with only a few complex systems onboard. Detection of such a satellite would be difficult using current technology, because at this time we can only detect solar wind deviations of up to 10−13 MS yr−1, while a 2 MW satellite would only divert 10−34 MS yr−1. Thus, only very large SWP Satellites could possibly be detected.

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International Journal of Astrobiology
  • ISSN: 1473-5504
  • EISSN: 1475-3006
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