The Astronomy Thread

Blazin

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Have to stop watching videos on this or I'll be forced to play Kerbal space program again. I really wish we could get a sim like Kerbal but more skewed towards realism but with near future tech nothing extravagant.
 

khorum

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LOL the ion engines on NASA's Dawn probes are actually in KSP already. There's a couple mods with the VASIMR drive and some megawatt-range reactors but I dunno how realistic they are.
 

Mudcrush Durtfeet

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Also, you need that nuclear reactor to run for months/years without maintenence or anyone operating it. Dunno how feasible that is.

Another obstacle is politics of putting nuclear reactors into orbit.
 

khorum

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The RTG on the Curiosity rover produces 110w and has enough isotope for 14 years or something. It's some fancy multi-mission RTG JPL designed so that it'll do at least 7 years at 100W, so it can do the full suite of tests that the Curiosity is equipped for at least 10 years. Some of the low-energy stuff are good for 14 years, but now it's looking like the wheels on it won't even last that long.

Anyways they can produce solid-state seebeck RTGs that are scaled up from that to the 5KW range... but full turbine reactors would become waaay more efficient after it gets to size of a car. As for the political stigma of putting nuclear generators in space they can mitigate the risk by assembling the generators in cislunar lagrange orbits, far out of any real risk, and have the fuel rods brought up in several launches.

But yeah the maintenance of the nuclear reactor would need a crew full time. The VASIMR was more or less designed to be a solid-state engine that wouldn't need new metallurgy and minimum maintenance by using magnetic containment for all the reaction volumes. Having a crew around to babysit its power source would be defeating that purpose:

 
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Mudcrush Durtfeet

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The RTG on the Curiosity rover produces 110w and has enough isotope for 14 years or something. It's some fancy multi-mission RTG JPL designed so that it'll do at least 7 years at 100W, so it can do the full suite of tests that the Curiosity is equipped for at least 10 years. Some of the low-energy stuff are good for 14 years, but now it's looking like the wheels on it won't even last that long.

Anyways they can produce solid-state seebeck RTGs that are scaled up from that to the 5KW range... but full turbine reactors would become waaay more efficient after it gets to size of a car. As for the political stigma of putting nuclear generators in space they can mitigate the risk by assembling the generators in cislunar lagrange orbits, far out of any real risk, and have the fuel rods brought up in several launches.

But yeah the maintenance of the nuclear reactor would need a crew full time. The VASIMR was more or less designed to be a solid-state engine that wouldn't need new metallurgy and minimum maintenance by using magnetic containment for all the reaction volumes. Having a crew around to babysit its power source would be defeating that purpose:

I think I remember that they've more or less ran out of the isotope needed to make these RTGs as it was a byproduct of the nuclear alchemy used to create fissionable materials for weapons, which isn't something that is being done large scale right now (or for a while). I could be wrong.

They cannot at this time assemble a nuclear reactor in cis lunar space. I'd like to see us with that capability, but that's an unknown timeframe. The risk isn't the assembly anyway, it's in the (perceived) chance of an accident during the launch of something with radioactive materials in it.
 

Big Phoenix

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What's the plan to power Martian missions? Solar is garbage at Mars and beyond, its why curiosity and the follow up are rtg powered.
Have to stop watching videos on this or I'll be forced to play Kerbal space program again. I really wish we could get a sim like Kerbal but more skewed towards realism but with near future tech nothing extravagant.
They're is an endless amount of mods that make the game very realistic.
 

Blazin

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What's the plan to power Martian missions? Solar is garbage at Mars and beyond, its why curiosity and the follow up are rtg powered.

They're is an endless amount of mods that make the game very realistic.
Yeah it’s part of what I begrudge each time I go back to it, loading 50 mods and finding the ones that work with each other and current version.

One of favorite games of all time, I love anything with space exploration and most have been just too sci fi.

Take on Mars was good but just never really came together, at least as of the last time I gave it a go.
 

Cad

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They cannot at this time assemble a nuclear reactor in cis lunar space. I'd like to see us with that capability, but that's an unknown timeframe. The risk isn't the assembly anyway, it's in the (perceived) chance of an accident during the launch of something with radioactive materials in it.
How do you figure that, every probe that goes up with an RTG has several tens of kg's of highly radioactive material in it. The only difference is with a reactor they are promoting an energetic chain reaction where an RTG just works on the decay heat.
 

Cad

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There have already been nuclear reactors(albeit very small low power ones, basically high power RTGs) put into space;

SNAP-10A - Wikipedia
There are (as your article also states) a shit ton of Russian reactors in orbit (or have already de-orbited) in their radar ocean recon satellites. They needed a radar power source powerful enough to find our aircraft carriers.

So far the earth hasn't ended due to this. Of course. Nuclear remains very safe and very powerful.

Related:

Why the fuck are we not building nuclear reactors in the US?
 

Mudcrush Durtfeet

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There have already been nuclear reactors(albeit very small low power ones, basically high power RTGs) put into space;

SNAP-10A - Wikipedia
I wasn't arguing this - it was not my contention that someone had not put an atomic reactor in space (I didn't know one way or the other before you posted the link above), what I was saying was basically that building an atomic reactor on Earth and then launching it into low orbit is a lot different than launching parts to lunar orbit or w/ever and then assembling it there. We don't have anything like the facilities or logistics for that right now. We could of course send one there (at some point) but what had been said was that to avoid politics stopping the use of atomic reactors on a spacecraft you could send the parts for an atomic reactor to lunar space (more or less) using multiple launches and assemble it there, which I am doubtful that we actually could right now (believing that we'd have to build some kind of facility there). Perhaps the Falcon Heavy could be used forr this, but otherwise I don't think we have a cheap enough rockent to do this (and I don't have faith in the SLS or New Glenn until they actually finish one). The SLS will be too expensive to do the multiple launch thing to do this anyway. Only way they fund a major push into space using that is if we discover a derelict alien artifact somewhere in the solar system or some such.

RTGs use radioactive decay and require very radioactive substances, atomic reactors require atomic fission and are different. A difference between the two is that you can turn off an atomic reactor, but an RTG remains on forever (unless you remove the radioactive heat source).
 

lgarthy

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It was a pretty amazing lunar eclipse. It was just stinking COLD where I was. BUT, it was pretty preternaturally awe-inspiring. I took a lot of BAD pictures with my phone. (Dumb idea), but the experience of watching lunar eclipses always stirs me.

DxaUiEXQAEI7NG.jpg
 

Cynical

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bloodmoon.jpg

Edmonton looked like the apocalypse was near for a bit, even though Edmonton always looks like the end of days it seems. (not my pic)
bloodmoon2.jpg
 

meStevo

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High winds broke the SpaceX Spaceship. Broke the moorings and the fairing separated from the ship. Musk says it'll take a few weeks to repair.