Comments: 175 • Responses: 87 • Date: 2013-05-03 16:58:25 UTCsource
jnosanov20 karma2013-05-03 17:13:08 UTC
Here is a poster I am working on that shows the idea of the mission:
View HistoryShare Link
pas464 karma2013-05-03 17:20:59 UTC
I just took a look at the idea. Pretty cool. Could you not cut costs by placing sensors on passing asteroids. I know it would take longer and control would be near impossible. But, costings would halved for the project.
jnosanov7 karma2013-05-03 17:25:25 UTC
Interesting idea - problem is that there are not a lot of asteroids known to us that travel that far from the sun. We would have to find them, reach them, somehow install equipment on them, and then wait. While asteroid-mounted sensors are probably a good idea for certain applications, the potential cost savings are probably not worth it.
pas463 karma2013-05-03 17:39:29 UTC
There are known earth crossing asteroids that could be used to act as a carrier. seeding the solar system would be fairly economical and sensors could be jettisoned at various points along the trajectory of the asteroid. It would save on fuel weight and allow more equipment to be stored on board. The modules could jettisoned and thrusted into position. If the asteroid is naturally going to be or deliberately slungshot by planetary gravity, that could be taken into account when choosing which earth passing asteroid to use for that particular mission.
jnosanov7 karma2013-05-03 17:41:35 UTC
I appreciate your thoughts. Solar sail's don't use fuel, which is one of the things that makes it so appealing. Are you currently affiliated with an institution that does research? I encourage you to propose your concept to the NIAC program.
pas463 karma2013-05-03 17:51:26 UTC
I was just thinking about the solar wind weakening, then I remembered your concept of optical lasers. I think I understand.
Try and build in a redundant system in case of a failure of sail deployment.
No, I have no affiliations with any institutions :-(
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:52:38 UTC
Yes, the strength of the solar energy decreases as 1/r2. So at about the distance of Jupiter we won't be getting much push from the sun. Have to accelerate a lot by then
Hells881 karma2013-05-03 18:50:15 UTC
How many watts would a laser need to output to communicate from the edge of the solar system?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 19:40:40 UTC
Not sure yet, but it's not simply a matter of wattage.
ArJooDeJew12 karma2013-05-03 17:28:04 UTC
That's absolutely fantastic.
As an Aerospace Engineer who wishes he was doing this with his degrees, I jealously salute you.
jnosanov9 karma2013-05-03 17:28:55 UTC
Thank you! What are you doing with your degrees?
jnosanov9 karma2013-05-03 22:08:32 UTC
Ok folks that's all for now, Ill check in tonight and answer any more questions. Thanks everyone for checking out my AMA.
Crushnaut3 karma2013-05-03 22:23:20 UTC
Thanks for doing this AMA. I found it really interesting and you replied to nearly everyone's questions. Great job!
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-04 04:04:35 UTC
My pleasure. I tried to reply to every question that wasn't an obvious troll. If I missed any legitimate questions it's because Reddit makes it surprisingly hard to see new sub-comments because they don't appear at the top of the list when sorted by "new." (Unless I am missing something in the interface.)
zushiba9 karma2013-05-03 18:30:50 UTC
So, when people say they want to explore interstellar space, they say they need to reach the edge of the solar system why do they go this way
instead of just going this way
jnosanov12 karma2013-05-03 18:34:42 UTC
Good question. It turns out that it requires a lot of energy to turn "up" from the plane of the ecliptic. Recall that everything is falling around the sun. Imagine then you fly off a cliff in a fighter jet. You accelerate straight down. Think about how hard it would be on the jet to make a 90 degree turn at this tremendous downward speed. That is the magnitude of the challenge faced by any vehicle intending to turn "up" at 90 degrees from the plane of the solar system.
jnosanov11 karma2013-05-03 18:36:07 UTC
That said, it can be done. It has only ever been done by using a gravity assist with Jupiter. Jupiter is so massive that it's gravity can significantly change the trajectory of an object orbiting the sun. For example the Ulysses spacecraft did this in order to obtain a Solar-polar orbit. Our mission concept also uses Jupiter gravity assists to go "up" and "down" relative to the ecliptic.
iamadeformedewok2 karma2013-05-04 02:59:49 UTC
So does this mean that we'll keep all 10 spacecraft in their launch vehicles (headed away from the sun) until they reach Jupiter, at which point each spacecraft will be jettisoned at a calculated time/location in order to hit its desired trajectory?
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-04 04:08:15 UTC
No, the spacecraft are released from the launch vehicle shortly after launch, and each take a slightly different path towards the sun. These tiny trajectory differences on the way towards the sun become colossal trajectory differences on the other side.
iamadeformedewok1 karma2013-05-04 03:07:47 UTC
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 04:07:13 UTC
The sail allows you to move off the x-y plane that you describe so that when you reach Jupiter you are closer to the y-z plane that lets you swing "up."
NastyEbilPiwate5 karma2013-05-03 18:44:19 UTC
Do you play Kerbal Space Program?
jnosanov5 karma2013-05-03 18:47:06 UTC
No, but it looks like a lot of fun!
Crushnaut2 karma2013-05-03 22:09:35 UTC
It really is. I've only been playing around with it for about a week and already I am having a great time calculating phase angles and sending my spaceships to other worlds. I can only imagine what it would be like to do this for a living. Too bad there is no time acceleration IRL so I can see the results of your project and others like it sooner.
My only beef with the game is the "scaled down" solar system. For example the "Mun" (the main moon of the main planet) is only 12,000 km from Kerbin. The actual moon is about 375,000 km from the Earth. Its not a huge deal and makes the game more enjoyable, but it hurts the public's perception of how big space is. Drives me up the wall every time I see an asteroid belt in Sci-fi that looks like this, http://cdni.wired.co.uk/620x413/a_c/asteroidbelt.jpg When in fact you would be lucky to see more than one asteroid from the surface of another.
jnosanov5 karma2013-05-04 04:05:54 UTC
Yeah, my gaming time is near zero because my wife and I have a one year old.
pas464 karma2013-05-03 16:59:49 UTC
If you are developing a concept, how far have you got?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:03:18 UTC
We are near the end of our first 9 month feasibility study. The goal was to study the concept and determine how realistic it is, or will be, in about 10 years or so. We have determined that it is feasible, that the science to be gained is worth gaining, and that the technology required can be developed in the next ten years or so. We have also described the spacecraft itself at a high level, meaning identified the various subsystems necessary, how they would work together, and that such a thing can be built.
pas465 karma2013-05-03 17:06:21 UTC
Cost would be a factor in any mission that far into interstellar space. How would mitigate the cost to the public?
Also, any mission out to the edge of the solar system would be a minimum of 5 years?
jnosanov7 karma2013-05-03 17:45:41 UTC
Regarding mitigation of costs to the public, you have addressed a very interesting point. How does the advance of scientific knowledge justify itself? This question is coming up a lot lately and is deeply philosophical in my opinion. I believe that one cannot predict how enhanced scientific knowledge will benefit life or society, but that history shows that the more scientifically invested cultures have tended to be more successful and last longer than others. The use of public resources for scientific investigation has to be balanced against other contemporary needs. I'd like to go further in this discussion but that's not the point of this AMA. Message me privately if you'd like to discuss further.
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 17:40:14 UTC
One of the goals has been to keep the cost "Realistic," meaning no more than the other flagship mission budgets. So far so good on that track.
Regarding transit time, yes, we are talking at least ten or 12 years to get out that far. Sounds like a long time but it is about 3 times faster than Voyager took to travel the same distance. That's not a ding against Voyager of course.
Magnesus4 karma2013-05-03 17:55:04 UTC
Where is our warp drive?
jnosanov7 karma2013-05-03 17:58:35 UTC
In our imaginations for now, unfortunately.
jnosanov6 karma2013-05-03 17:59:33 UTC
Nature has made it really, really, hard to travel really, really far.
KHSoz3 karma2013-05-03 19:08:25 UTC
I have faith in you guys. One day you'll make everyone's wildest Sci Fi fantasy a reality with science.
jnosanov4 karma2013-05-03 19:39:46 UTC
Thank you!!! We are trying.
phdpeabody4 karma2013-05-03 19:14:47 UTC
jnosanov11 karma2013-05-03 19:25:24 UTC
I wrote a paper on that very topic. In short, I believe we are entirely capable of developing, launching, and operating missions to extreme distances over many decades. The discovery of the planetary alignment that enabled the Voyager mission occurred in the early 1960s. It is now 2013 and we still communicate with the spacecraft. That's half a century including concept, design, execution, launch and operation. We did that through some of the most tumultuous decades in recent history, across many presidential administrations, many wars, etc. We are ready to start exploring the universe.
hca3 karma2013-05-03 17:06:21 UTC
Hi! What kind of qualifications and experience did you need to develop something like this and, indeed, work for NASA?
jnosanov8 karma2013-05-03 17:10:32 UTC
That's a very interesting question. I have 3 degrees - Environmental Analysis and Design B.A., J.D., and an LL.M. in Space Law. I don't have the traditional technical background. I have a wonderful team that helps me with specific technical areas. There are lots of jobs of all different skill sets around NASA, and anyone can propose to the funding opportunity that I did (NIAC) http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/index.html
I think the main qualification for this particular NASA program is imagination. Now, I spent a lot of time studying the various technical subjects but without imagination and creativity you can't do huge things.
So, imagination first, technical expertise second. The great thing about working here at JPL is that I am surrounded by experts in every conceivable field applicable in space so it is relatively easy to access such expertise.
hca6 karma2013-05-03 17:16:22 UTC
Wow, thanks for your reply! I didn't even know there was such a thing as Space Law.
jnosanov5 karma2013-05-03 17:18:13 UTC
My pleasure. My first job at JPL was more in the regulatory compliance area, but I spent a lot of time studying the technical subjects. The lack of a traditional technical education has been a small hurdle, but the credentials of my team have helped.
ArJooDeJew3 karma2013-05-03 17:28:54 UTC
Wait till I tell you about Bird Law.
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 17:33:18 UTC
haha. Sounds like EPA stuff to me.
iamadeformedewok3 karma2013-05-03 18:06:22 UTC
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 18:10:34 UTC
jnosanov5 karma2013-05-03 17:12:05 UTC
There really are jobs for all kinds of skill sets. Check the NASA jobs page and the JPL jobs page.
iamadeformedewok3 karma2013-05-03 18:24:47 UTC
I'm trying to picture these spacecraft once they reach the edge of the Solar System. Will they stop using propulsion at that point and basically be floating out there?
Are there plans to land one of them on Pluto?
jnosanov5 karma2013-05-03 18:59:43 UTC
So, the edge of the solar system is about 10 times the distance of Pluto. Passing Pluto is just the beginning for this mission. So no, no Pluto landing. It's going to be extremely hard to land on Pluto for the foreseeable future because it's very far away and so takes a lot of energy to get there in a reasonable time frame, and then it would take yet another huge amount of energy to slow down enough to land. This is why our only mission to Pluto ever, New Horizons, is just going to fly by, and it is still going to take 9 years to get there.
iamadeformedewok2 karma2013-05-03 19:14:35 UTC
So, the edge of the solar system is about 10 times the distance of Pluto.
So, the edge of the solar system is about 10 times the distance of Pluto.
Ouch, that's embarrassing. Apparently I've had a completely inaccurate view of our solar system this entire time..
jnosanov5 karma2013-05-03 19:27:27 UTC
Don't be embarrassed - many of these things depend on your point of view. The planetary system ends at Pluto, but the influence of the sun (in terms of magnetic, electric, and plasma fields) ends much farther away when the fields are so weak that the external interstellar fields can "push" "in" with roughly equal strength.
Daimonin_1232 karma2013-05-03 19:42:18 UTC
I assume that once New Horizons completes it's fly by, it will end up like Voyager, just heading for the black and transmitting back data as long as possible?
Considering the 29 years of technological advancement between Voyager and New Horizons, is it expected to last significantly longer then Voyager, or get further before power loss makes communications impossible?
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 20:19:35 UTC
Not sure what their post-Pluto plan is. The power system is similar enough that at a minimum it will have the same lifetime as the Voyager power system (~45 years)
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 18:27:00 UTC
If this mission happens someday, no, they will not stop. They will take measurements throughout their approach to, passage through, and travel beyond the Heliopause, probably until either the power is too low to use the communication system or the distance is too far to use the communication system.
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 18:28:00 UTC
Much like Voyager. We still communicate with the Voyager spacecraft, and the thinking is that by around 2025 the power system will be low enough that it will no longer support Voyager- to- Earth communications, and the mission will essentially be over :(
Daimonin_1232 karma2013-05-03 19:35:49 UTC
Couldn't a new probe, or one of the existing probes already out there, be used as a relay point for Voyager? Something to intercept the communications, and boost them on their way to Earth?
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 19:38:52 UTC
In theory, maybe. There has been some successful work in the area of repurposing one spacecraft to serve as a relay for another. The event that will end the Voyager mission is not the distance (probably) but rather when the power system no longer makes enough power to use the communication system.
hobo__spider1 karma2013-05-03 20:44:08 UTC
But what happens to the crew D:?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 20:47:43 UTC
No crew in these deep space missions.
hobo__spider2 karma2013-05-03 20:50:09 UTC
That's a misunderstanding and a half.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 22:07:20 UTC
Yes, nothing beyond the moon has ever had human passengers onboard. They have all been robotic.
is_this_wifi_organic2 karma2013-05-03 17:30:20 UTC
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:36:03 UTC
If you tell me more about yourself and your own skills, I can help more.
is_this_wifi_organic1 karma2013-05-03 18:06:43 UTC
I'm a pretty normal humanities college graduate, have worked jobs in the legal sector, corporate investigation, social work, political organizing. i think it would be pretty long stretch to get a job at NASA, but I have a lot of free time and would like to do something useful in this general sphere.
I probably won't be able to afford a telescope in the near future, but I'm going to a stargazing event on Tuesday.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:09:53 UTC
I think the most important qualification is having a passion for space exploration. Everything else can be learned. Good luck!
Lewisman0072 karma2013-05-03 20:38:08 UTC
I want to work as an astrophysicist at NASA, what are the best qualifications to get, i.e. courses and what entry routes are best?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 20:43:38 UTC
It is very hard to get serious credibility as a scientist at NASA without a proper Ph.D. So get a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. How old are you? Where do you live?
Lewisman0073 karma2013-05-03 21:41:05 UTC
15 from Scotland, so quite a journey but I love physics and space so i'd quite like to work with NASA, and the weather over there is better than here :P
Also, not gaining credibility without a Ph.D. reminds me of Howard from The Big Bang Theory lol :D
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 21:47:05 UTC
Excellent, thanks for viewing! Well, the good news is that you are young enough to start that education process if you wish.
CypherPunkd2 karma2013-05-03 21:35:11 UTC
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 21:37:48 UTC
lol, I do not.
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-04 04:05:00 UTC
By the way thank you for posting this, I am now a big fan of these guys.
infineks2 karma2013-05-04 07:08:27 UTC
Is it hard to get a job in NASA, or any aerospace company? I'm 16 and I adore space and everything to do with it, especially rocket science! If it isn't too personal, what kind of grades did you achieve in high school, and what courses did you take? I wish you luck on developing a mission concept!
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 15:52:36 UTC
Private message me and we'll talk
patanwilson2 karma2013-05-03 18:01:18 UTC
Your job sounds so very interesting. Does NASA consider new candidates that come from a non-space industry? It seems that there are very specific jobs to apply for, which could all be suitable a mechanical engineer. However, I had never come across a position like yours before.
I've been in the HVAC Engineering industry for almost 8 years, and I'm finally close to getting my green card, after which I'm planning to shift into some realm of the space industry.
Coming from a different industry I'd be somewhat of an entry level engineer, albeit with a lot of professional experience. So I'm hoping at least I have a chance... Is this any harder than being fresh out of school?
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 18:04:49 UTC
I love my job. Yes, anyone can apply, and there are fairly specific jobs. Hard to say beyond that. I wish you the best of luck. You might also try getting a job as a lab technician at a University or something like that.
patanwilson2 karma2013-05-03 18:10:01 UTC
Thanks! we'll see how this year goes... I'm super excited because I have no idea where I could be in 1 year! And finally the tiger can come out of the cage! lol!
I'm jealous! You are at the vanguard of human space exploration... We need that Hydrogen Fusion Ramjet!
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 18:12:44 UTC
Thank you, I'm trying!
There have been a number of concepts for spacecraft that use magnetic scoops to draw in fuel in the form of hydrogen atoms in space - but so far I think the big obstacle is powering the magnet. Hope one of them works out some day.
ThrowCarp2 karma2013-05-04 04:48:26 UTC
Your thoughts on University of Washington's plan to have fusion-powered spacecraft reach reach Mars in 30 days?
Also, thoughts on working together with the private sector?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 15:54:01 UTC
Love the UoW work. Hope it works someday. Re private sector, I am a big believer in such partnerships. My study includes a big role for the private sector if such a mission were to ever happen.
shotskie2 karma2013-05-03 17:35:14 UTC
Proposed are multiple satellites, would they require multiple launch vehicles?
What earth-bound technologies might come of these vehicles launching? or, what engineering challenges remain to making this project a reality?
What are the cost projections for this project? If not solid numbers, maybe in comparison to NASA's budget or the previous Voyager missions?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:38:44 UTC
No, our spacecraft are small enough that they would probably fit 6 in one launch vehicle as secondary payloads. So maybe if we were to launch 12 total, then that would take 2 launches worth of secondary payloads.
The concept relies heavily on optical/laser communication. If we can show that such a thing can be done at the vast distances in space, then more applications on Earth will probably emerge.
Too soon to project cost, but the idea is to keep it around the same level as the other Flagship class missions like Mars Science Lab, Cassini, Voyager, etc.
shotskie2 karma2013-05-03 17:48:22 UTC
Good answers. Any references/links to the proposed optical communication links and how these may outperform current RF methods?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:51:39 UTC
Not yet, but soon. My final report will be publicly available. PM me and I'll keep you posted.
fimcotw2 karma2013-05-03 17:58:28 UTC
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 18:02:41 UTC
Well, most spacecraft can use "Traditional" RF communication with transmitting and receiving dishes and things. In our solar sail concept however mass is at an absolute premium, and the communication distance will be extremely far. So it would require a very large and massive dish on the spacecraft. We thought we could save some mass using optical comm instead of a big dish, so we are doing so.
If we didn't use optical comm, we'd need a very large communications dish that MIGHT be so massive that it would slow the spacecraft velocity enough that it would add years to the mission.
Yes, you are referring to the Gravity Probes mission. It is an absolutely fascinating mission and I am happy to see it brought up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_Probe_B
fimcotw1 karma2013-05-03 18:11:19 UTC
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:21:45 UTC
As in pointing two spacecraft at each other across billions of miles and measuring gravitational waves based on how they perturb the laser comm? Unfortunately I don't think we can point the spacecraft that accurately. We can point at Earth b/c earth is huge. Much harder to point at a tiny spacecraft 10 billion miles away.
Crushnaut1 karma2013-05-03 21:37:09 UTC
Kind of off topic, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the FOCAL mission? http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=785
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 21:44:37 UTC
Love the idea! Hope it can happen someday. Plenty of technical challenges in the way.
Crushnaut1 karma2013-05-03 21:56:47 UTC
Indeed, 550AU is a long way to go. How far out do you see the craft in your mission being when all is said and done? About 100AU?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 21:57:39 UTC
About 150 I think...
trout0071 karma2013-05-04 03:39:00 UTC
Have you heard about the Electrical Universe theories? The ones about the heliopause being a plasma double layer are particularly interesting. Is this quakery? What instruments would you have to figure out what is going on out there?
Also did you need to get permission to do an AMA or are you a Caltech employee and they have different standards than NASA.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-04 03:58:13 UTC
I am not familiar with the electrical universe theories. Sorry. Regarding AMAs and permission, I asked for permission from the NASA program that is funding the project I'm discussing.
ffigeman1 karma2013-05-04 02:04:03 UTC
Memory from the office that always make you happy?
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-04 03:57:27 UTC
Easy answer for this one. I had been working for JPL for a few months and they lab was getting set up for open house. This involved moving the ATHLETE rover to a parking lot so the public could see it. (http://www-robotics.jpl.nasa.gov/systems/system.cfm?System=11)
Well, it got stuck right outside of my building and when I was returning from lunch I saw a giant robot outside my window. That was when I felt I had "made it," accomplished a major life goal of working for NASA.
ChefQuixote1 karma2013-05-03 23:34:21 UTC
I salute you, Sir! Two questions;
1) what do you call a female Advanced Concepts "fellow"?
2) how fast could your device move with a Solar Sail? When would it stop being useful?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-04 03:54:15 UTC
I was actually thinking that the female fellows could be called ladies or something. But nope, the program calls them fellows as well. I suppose it is an academic title rather than a gendered title. Regarding the speed of the spacecraft, it looks like we will get up to about 10-12 AU per year. An AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, about 100 million miles. This speed is 3-4 times faster than Voyager.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-04 03:55:31 UTC
I forgot to mention how long the sail is useful. Since solar energy from the sun decreases with the square of the distance from the sun, it turns out that by the time you are at about the distance of Jupiter (~500 million miles from the sun) your sail isn't helping much anymore.
MethBear1 karma2013-05-06 15:41:38 UTC
Would it possibly ever pick up energy from another star?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-13 18:06:40 UTC
Not sure what you mean by energy in this context, but sure if you were close enough you could use the other star's solar energy for power, or propulsion with a solar sail, etc.
Pweedle1 karma2013-05-03 23:59:19 UTC
Have you ever seen Uranus?
I'm sorry, I couldn't resist
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 03:54:33 UTC
sounds like an optical system would solve this problem
iamrossok1 karma2013-05-04 00:55:54 UTC
Hey, thanks for doing this.
Now i'm not one to believe everything i read on the internet but i have recently read online that 50% of nasa employees are dyslexic and i was wondering if this was true. Thanks
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-04 03:56:03 UTC
Not that I'm aware of. I'm not dyslexic as far as I know.
msburgerking1 karma2013-05-04 03:42:18 UTC
sorry if something similiar has been asked before but would it be possible to build something like a mass relay to slingshot us from solar system to solar system? also is gas used for rockets? like gas we buy at chevron?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-04 03:59:55 UTC
As far as we know there is no trick in nature that behaves like the mass relays in Mass Effect. I love those games. The "mass effect" is a great plot device and sure would be convenient. If nature permits faster than light travel I imagine it will be very, very difficult to achieve. That said, 250 years ago we were completely ignorant of the entire non-visible spectrum. 150 years ago we had no concept of relativity and could not explain the majority of the phenomena we observe in the universe. 100 years ago we did not know what protons and neutrons were made of. So, science moves slowly, but it does move, and I am confident that nature has many more secrets for us. I hope one of them allows us to travel faster than light.
Rocket fuel is hydrogen and oxygen. So no, not quite what we put into our cars, although the principle (combusting gas to convert chemical energy into mechanical energy) is basically the same.
main_hoon_na1 karma2013-05-04 17:22:46 UTC
Hi Mr. Nosanov,
This is terribly late, but first, I just want to let you know that people like you are part of who and what inspired me to go into astrophysics - because not only is the field really goddamn awesome, everyone who works in it is passionate about their work and eager to get others interested in it. And people like you are the reason I'm finally doing an internship at JPL this summer, which I'm so ridiculously excited about you won't believe. So thanks.
Now, on to science. I work more in galaxies, and on the theoretical side of things, so I'm less familiar with missions themselves. I looked at the diagram, and your mission's instruments are basically scanning the chemical makeup and characteristics of the Sun, it seems like. How would that help you discern the solar system's origin, and in what capacity are you trying to do this? (i.e. the material origin of the planets?)
Do you consider the edge of the solar system as beyond the Oort Cloud? (I'm afraid I'm terribly clueless about planetary/star formation side of things.) Are you equipping the craft to presumably keep transmitting from beyond it, and what precautions do you take from collisions with small asteroids? What distinguishes your craft from missions like New Horizons (besides the updated technology) and Cassini (besides the different goals?)
Thanks a lot!
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-05 15:19:24 UTC
First, congrats on your internship! When you get to JPL look up my last name in the directory and send me a note! I'll show you around and tell you what you need to know to get started with confidence. Then I'll answer the rest of your questions in person.
OrdinaryNarwhal1 karma2013-05-04 00:38:24 UTC
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 03:55:47 UTC
Probably keeping the sail safe from particle impacts, radiation, etc.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 19:41:13 UTC
For new folks, here is a poster in progress that shows the concept: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/65bca7d7-6405-499c-8351-86a48fbc2d15
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-04 02:26:44 UTC
FYI Ill be home in an hour or so and will respond to all questions
Crushnaut1 karma2013-05-06 20:17:30 UTC
I was just thinking about this thread and some more questions occured to me. I am not sure if you are available to answer more questions, if not no worries. :) I appreciate all the answers you have already given.
1) The solar cycle lasts approximately 20 years. Does this have an effect on the outer layers of the Heliosphere that your mission plans to study? Are there any other known "seasonal" variations in the suns fields? How long would these variations take to propagate out to the outer solar system? Will you tie your mission in with existing solar observatories such as SDO? I think the existing missions offer a really interesting way to detect changes on the surface of the sun then make predictions about the effect these changes will have in the outer system.
2) Since your mission plan is to send multiple space craft large distances from the Earth in several different directions would it be possible to use these craft make a large Interferometer?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-13 18:08:23 UTC
itchinforhitchin1 karma2013-05-04 14:36:02 UTC
Hey I studied Lagrange point orbits as part of my dissertation, would an interstellar mission make use of the ideas of the Interplanetary superhighway of Lo, Ross and Marsden be applicable to this?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 15:51:28 UTC
My understanding of the superhighway concept is that of low energy and slower velocity. Perhaps there is an interstellar equivalent but that seems like it would be very, very slow. But I am not an expert on that.
alphad4wg1 karma2013-05-04 16:00:19 UTC
Hi there, I saw that you did Space Law LLM, and I wanted to ask why did you decide to do it, and what exactly is space law? How should one prepare to get into space law?
This is a really interesting AMA, thanks for sharing!
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-05 15:16:51 UTC
Space law refers to the laws, regulations, and treaties that govern human activity in outer space. Many nations have their own internal laws and regulations about space vehicles, and there is a series of treaties at the international level that govern the obligations of nations to other nations regarding space.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-05 15:17:52 UTC
I chose to study space law because I wanted to learn a unique skill set that was broadly applicable to any major player in the space industry. Plus, because its awesome.
Crushnaut1 karma2013-05-05 18:44:39 UTC
What do you think the future holds for the weaponization of space? I see it as being something that is inevitable due to the huge advantage that the first nation to weaponize space will gain. It is like the ultimate high ground.
Does it make sense to ensure that at least two nation states are allowed to weaponize space at the same time to ensure that neither gains an advantage and MAD is maintained?
I really do not want to see space weaponized but I do not see how, from a strategic and logical standpoint, that any nation with the means could avoid going down that route.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-13 18:05:40 UTC
Right now any such project would be so massively expensive that it is not a risk in the near term. (in my opinion)
[deleted]1 karma2013-05-03 17:04:27 UTC
is_this_wifi_organic1 karma2013-05-03 17:10:45 UTC
didn't load for me
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:13:32 UTC
also reposted below
flyingbuttpliers1 karma2013-05-03 17:54:22 UTC
How does a craft figure it's location / speed from star light? Did older craft like voyager use the same methods?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 17:58:15 UTC
Here is a good summary of those issues: http://scienceandtechnology.jpl.nasa.gov/newsandevents/newsdetails/?NewsID=147
flyingbuttpliers1 karma2013-05-03 17:52:39 UTC
Any plans for remote telescopes at opposite sides of the solar system to give us slow but big pictures of the universe? What is the goal of your mission other than distance?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 17:56:20 UTC
One of the other applications of this method of reaching vast distances is bringing a telescope or other imaging device way out there, yes.
The goal of the mission is to reach the edge of the solar system, also called the heliopause, and measure the effects of the sun and the local interstellar medium. Basically, there are a variety of fields that emanate from the sun in all directions, and at the edge of their influence there are fields from OUTside the solar system that interact with the solar fields. So there is a very dynamic boundary where the two meet, and we don't understand what happens there very well. A deeper understanding of those interactions would help us explore other questions such as the origin of matter in the solar system, the penetration of radiation into the solar system, etc. The Voyager spacecraft have given us some data about the interactions out there and they mostly raise more questions than they answer.
inquiring_1 karma2013-05-03 18:37:47 UTC
I'm just joining. Could you talk about the next generation replacement for the space shuttle. What's the progress and when will it be ready. I just read we are paying $71 million a seat to get to the ISS. Could we dust off one of the shuttle for this. Do you know the per trip operating cost for the shuttle. What was the main reason we did not further extend the shuttle's life? Was it safety?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:43:32 UTC
Unfortunately I don't know the whole story here. What I can tell you is that using a Space Shuttle involves a HUGE infrastructure involving many corporations, agencies, and institutions across the entire nation and that once the shutdown started, it can't be undone. I wish I had a better answer for you. Maybe you could try tweeting to @NASA and ask them.
Augustus_Trollus_III1 karma2013-05-03 18:42:16 UTC
Voyager / others used the planets as slingshots. Could the Sun be used as a really big sling shot?
jnosanov4 karma2013-05-03 18:45:49 UTC
Ah, sort of. This is a wonderful bit of science and I'm happy someone asked. The solar system is a bunch of objects going around a central body, the sun. When a spacecraft slingshots with a planet, it is exchanging momentum with the planet relative to the central body. This "relative" part is key. This means that if you start in the solar system, like on Earth, you cannot slingshot with the sun. If you started OUTSIDE the solar system, such as in orbit around another star, you CAN slingshot with the sun, because the sun is not the central body anymore (it's the center of the galaxy in that case.)
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:46:30 UTC
Does that make sense? I'm happy to explain further if not. To me this concept is one of the most beautiful concepts I have ever learned.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:53:04 UTC
Now, our concept does involved going around the sun at a close distance, but not for a gravity assist. Rather, we want to get close to the sun because the the sail will receive much more energy, and thus more thrust for the spacecraft close to the sun. So, we want to get as close to the sun as we can do safely.
Augustus_Trollus_III1 karma2013-05-03 18:56:42 UTC
I think so. It's kind of like spider man swinging from building to building (planet to planet). Except that spider man can't swing from the street. The street being the sun?
lol is that a correct interpretation?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 19:11:22 UTC
The problem with this analogy is that Spiderman's swing does not take energy away from the building. When Voyager 2 passed Jupiter, Voyager 2's velocity changed significantly and Jupiter's velocity changed extremely minimally, relative to the sun. I will continue to think about other ways to express this.
elculogrande1 karma2013-05-03 18:47:55 UTC
Do you guys need an electrical engineer by any chance?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:51:53 UTC
My team doesn't, but you may find job postings at JPL or other centers for that skill set.
mhendry1 karma2013-05-03 18:53:13 UTC
Where do you get your awesome socks?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:53:36 UTC
LOL I got all of them as gifts Morgan hahaha
Yooklid1 karma2013-05-03 18:55:43 UTC
I am a huge fan of KSR's mars trilogy. What's your take on the science part of it?
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 18:57:24 UTC
I read Red Mars. I never read the others because all of the interesting characters were dead by the end of Red Mars. I don't honestly remember much of the science, as I read it ten years ago, but I loved the Martian space elevator.
Yooklid1 karma2013-05-03 19:11:49 UTC
Thanks. While I definitely missed Frank, Arkady and John, I think you should give the other books a chance. Some of the other characters really come into their own. Sax in particular.
There's also a LOT of cool terraforming science in it.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 19:14:43 UTC
They are on my book pile.
jnosanov1 karma2013-05-03 19:15:25 UTC
Re terraforming - cool.
GuruOfReason1 karma2013-05-03 19:12:23 UTC
What is your favorite sci-fi space drive?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 19:18:45 UTC
That is a really, really hard question. I like hyperspace travel in Star Wars, as it suggests the possibility of traveling in some higher or lower spatial dimension. I like warp drive because it was sort of imagined as a way to follow the known laws of physics at the time. Sort of. Of course, they are imaginary, yet compelling. I really hope something like these is possible someday. Nature still has plenty of secrets for us to uncover.
hobo__spider1 karma2013-05-03 20:31:04 UTC
Can I come on the cruise to the edge of the solar system please?
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 20:32:46 UTC
:) of course, although it will be a very long, cold, one way trip
djb855111 karma2013-05-03 21:00:50 UTC
If we had an awesome spaceship, something with "warp" speed and a renewable source of energy, what would be the most prohibitive issue with leaving our solar system?
Your poster references radiation exposure, is that it? I think like hitting asteroids or getting close to black holes are issues, but we could probably notice those before we hit them.
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-03 21:05:16 UTC
If propulsion and energy were solved problems, then yes radiation protection for the humans onboard would be high on the list. Getting close to black holes would probably be low on the list of worries because we would still be quite far from any of them in the star systems near ours. If energy isn't a problem then an anti-asteroid defense system would probably be simple as well. Fun speculation.
eeweew0 karma2013-05-03 22:13:48 UTC
How do you justify Nasa pulling the plug on LISA while investigating this kind of missions? I know gravitational waves do not sound that important to the public so they are harder to "sell", but a GW detector in space is of more scientific importance at the moment, going to the edge of the solar system will probably earn a lot of knowledge, but a LISA like detector can "see" the whole universe.
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-04 03:52:46 UTC
Thank you for asking this question. It's a very important point. I have no insight into why LISA was cancelled, and it had nothing to do with the funding of my project. NASA distributes its funds into programs, which then decide how to distribute their funds further down. My proposal was selected as one of 12 to be funded in 2012 from an initial group of over five hundred proposals. I say that only to reflect the judgment of the review board that made decisions on what projects to fund.
I wish LISA was still happening. I agree with you about the importance of gravitational wave science and the incredible insights it could offer on the universe as a whole. Unfortunately I have no influence in that area.
I should also make clear a distinction between a study and a flight mission. My project is in the very early stage and is very much a study. A flight mission is something like MSL or Voyager. It is important for NASA to keep a diverse portfolio of mission concepts available so that they will have the best possible group of options when available money and science intersect. So, the funding given to my project had nothing to do with LISA.
So in sum, I share your frustration. I hope that gives some clarity into how things work and don't work.
I_Has_A_Hat0 karma2013-05-03 19:12:39 UTC
So I know on voyager there are some bits of humanity along for the ride (records, inscriptions, map to Sol). What kinds of things, if any, will be on future probes? And i guess along those same lines, if you could smuggle one thing onto the probe before launch, assuming it wouldn't cause any negative affects, what would you put on it?
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 19:14:31 UTC
I don't think there are any plans to include any more cultural items on any missions in the works. If I could add one, it would be a photo of my son.
mikey4440 karma2013-05-03 17:41:48 UTC
1) First thing you would ask a friendly Marsian?
2) Second thing you would as a Marsian?
3)Whats your favorite movie?
Haha, I know these are silly questions but my friends and I are big fans and want to know your personality!!!
jnosanov3 karma2013-05-03 17:48:05 UTC
What do you eat?
THEN I'd say "let me get my astrobiologist friend to ask you more questions"
Star Wars Empire Strikes Back
feel free to private message me if you want to chat more
reallniceguy-4 karma2013-05-04 08:48:27 UTC
Corporate welfare, feeder of the trough.
Nothing NASA does could not come from private and corporate funding.
jnosanov2 karma2013-05-04 15:52:15 UTC
I welcome your opinion, but I am curious about what corporate entity you believe would have an incentive to study interstellar mission architectures?
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