Monday, July 2, 2012

Departure To The Oort Cloud

Artist: Michael Jaecks Concept: The Hahnork
"The Hahnork scour the Oort Cloud well past Pluto's orbit for micro-comets, icy chunks of comet nuclei that have made too many trips around the sun and have almost completely evaporated. The Hahnork then push these tiny comets back toward the sun and surf their inertia for fun. As they approach the solar winds, the small chunks of ice and rock begin to evaporate again, forming a bright tail of ionized gas on the approach. The Hahnork enjoy playing their interstellar game of 'chicken' and choose the smallest comet nuclei they can as a matter of pride. The last Hahnork left standing on his comet wins."

The Oort Cloud fits theory really well, but by definition cannot be shown to exist using current technology. This is one concept that is a favorite of the critics of science crowd because they claim that scientific claims for the Oort Cloud are on a par with claims for God and intelligent design. This is not far wrong.

Wiki says:
"The Oort cloud or the Öpik–Oort cloud, is a hypothesized spherical cloud of comets which may lie roughly 50,000 AU, or nearly a light-year, from the Sun. This places the cloud at nearly a quarter of the distance to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun. The Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, the other two reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, are less than one thousandth of the Oort cloud's distance. The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the Solar System and the region of the Sun's gravitational dominance.

"The Oort cloud is thought to comprise two separate regions: a spherical outer Oort cloud and a disc-shaped inner Oort cloud, or Hills cloud. Objects in the Oort cloud are largely composed of ices, such as water, ammonia, and methane. Astronomers believe that the matter composing the Oort cloud formed closer to the Sun and was scattered far out into space by the gravitational effects of the giant planets early in the Solar System's evolution.

"Although no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud have been made, astronomers believe that it is the source of all long-period and Halley-type comets entering the inner Solar System and many of the centaurs and Jupiter-family comets as well. The outer Oort cloud is only loosely bound to the Solar System, and thus is easily affected by the gravitational pull both of passing stars and of the Milky Way Galaxy itself. These forces occasionally dislodge comets from their orbits within the cloud and send them towards the inner Solar System."
The problem is energy and storage space. If we solve those, then there is the velocity problem and the braking problem, meaning to get there in anything like a reasonable time frame forces travel at a significant percentage of the speed of light. There is the raw space high energy cosmic ray and related radiation exposure problem. Finally there are the psychology problems connected to long term isolation either solo or as is equally difficult, in small groups. We already know all we need concerning navigation and communication. I have a strong opinion that human nature will continue to offer the biggest obstacles, and that the same solutions to them will more or less work just the same. The very best chance we have of surviving ourselves is to find a compelling challenge that overrides our tendency to selfish and self centered attitudes and behavior.

Already in the global warming issue we see how difficult it is to get consensus even in the face of the possibility of an extinction level event. We need certainty and we may never get certainty until far too late. Otherwise it is still reasonable to doubt global warming even if it is insane to take the risk of doing nothing.

Why would we ever go to the Oort Cloud? To mine the raw materials found there. We would have to revolutionize current science to make this pay. We might need the water though by then. And the clean Oxygen. And the usable hydrocarbons. By earth's inventory standards the Oort Cloud is basically limitless.

Oh by the way, we may be well on the way to building a ring world by the time we mine the Oort Cloud - in this way capturing a great deal more of the sun's energy and rising above the planetary model of civilization, entering citizen of the galaxy status.

One reason we don't find civilizations out there may be that successful civilizations have succeeded in capturing 100% of their sun's output and have thus rendered themselves basically invisible because they no longer leak to the outside in any way.

Departure To The Oort Cloud

I look from my post,
from orders to head far out
to the birthing cloud
beyond this solar
neighborhood, I, departing
bid you this farewell,
knowing I have left
you ragged, undone, hoping
you will find your way
to forgive me this.

April 19, 2010 08:42 PM

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, said this post struck a chord with you. I hope also you will read the Henry Kuttner story link I sent you, mainly because the craft is superb.

    What happened here, I had two post lists up and one showed tonight's post listed and the other showed an empty draft space. I erased that empty draft and my post disappeared too. It was still on screen though. So I copied it and reposted. Grrr.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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