New Propulsion System for Robotic LanderPrototype

NASA’s Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project at Marshall Space Flight Center has completed a series of hot fire tests and taken delivery of a new propulsion system for integration into a more sophisticated free-flying autonomous robotic lander prototype. The project is partnered with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers to achieve scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon and near-Earth asteroids.The new robotic lander prototype will continue to mature the development of a robotic lander capability by bringing online an autonomous flying test lander that will be capable of flying up to sixty seconds, testing the guidance, navigation and control system by demonstrating a controlled landing in a simulated low gravity environment.

By the spring of 2011, the new prototype lander will begin flight tests at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal Test Center. The prototype’s new propulsion system consists of 12 small attitude control thrusters, three primary descent thrusters to control the vehicle’s altitude, and one large “gravity-canceling” thruster which offsets a portion of the prototype’s weight to simulate a lower gravity environment, like that of the moon and asteroids. The prototype uses a green propellant, hydrogen peroxide, ina stronger concentration of a solution commonly used in homes as a disinfectant. The by-products after use are water and oxygen.

The propulsion hardware acceptance test consisted of a series of tests that verified the performance of each thruster in the propulsion system. The series culminated in a test that characterized the entire system by running a scripted set of thruster firings based on a flight scenario simulation.
The propulsion system is currently at Teledyne Brown’s manufacturing facility in Huntsville, for integration with the structure and avionics to complete the new robotic lander prototype. Dynetics Corp. developed the robotic lander prototype propulsion system under the management of the Von Braun Center for Science andInnovation both located in Huntsville,

This is the second phase of a robotic lander prototype development program. Our initial “cold gas” prototype was built, delivered and successfully flight tested at the Marshall Center in a record nine months, providing a physical and tangible demonstration of capabilities related to the critical terminal descent and landing phases for an airless body mission.

The first robotic lander prototype has a record flight time of ten seconds and descended from three meters altitude. This first robotic lander prototype began flight tests in September 2009 and has completed 142 flight tests, providing a platform to develop and test algorithms, sensors, avionics, ground and flight software and ground systems to support autonomous landings on airless bodies, whereaero-braking and parachutes are not option.

[Source: Nasa]

Wormhole Induction Propulsion and Interstellar Travel: A Brief Review

Though it seems impossible to colonize galaxy at sub-light speed but without FTL travel we can still colonise the universe at sub-light velocities[ using self replicating probes and Bioprograms which I’ve discussed earlier], but the resulting colonies are separated from each other by the vastness of interstellar space. In the past trading empires have coped with time delays on commerce routes of the order of a few years at most. This suggests that economic zones would find it difficult to encompass more than one star system. Travelling beyond this would require significant re-orientation upon return, catching up with cultural changes etc. It’s unlikely people would routinely travel much beyond this and return.

wormhole could be constructed, by confining exotic matter to narrow regions to form the edges of three-dimensional space like a cube. The faces of the cube would resemble mirrors, except that the image is of the view from the other end of the wormhole. Although there is only one cube of material, it appears at two locations to the external observer. The cube links two ‘ends’ of a wormhole together. A traveller, avoiding the edges and crossing through a face of one of the cubes, experiences no stresses and emerges from the corresponding face of the other cube. The cube has no interior but merely facilitates passage from ‘one’ cube to the ‘other’.

The exotic nature of the edge material requires negative energy density and tension/pressure. But the laws of physics do not forbid such materials. The energy density of the vacuum may be negative, as is the Casimir field between two narrow conductors. Negative pressure fields, according to standard astrophysics, drove the expansion of the universe during its ‘inflationary’ phase. Cosmic string (another astrophysical speculation) has negative tension. The mass of negative energy the wormhole needs is just the amount to form a black hole if it were positive, normal energy. A traversable wormhole can be thought of as the negative energy counterpart to a black hole, and so justifies the appellation ‘white’ hole. The amount of negative energy required for a traversable wormhole scales with the linear dimensions of the wormhole mouth. A one meter cube entrance requires a negative mass of roughly 10^27 kg.

The problem with negative energy, employing as propulsion material, is that it’s too pesky to manage high energy densities of negative energy. Rapid interplanetary and interstellar space flight by means of spacetime wormholes is possible, in principle, whereby the traditional rocket propulsion approach can be abandoned in favor of a new paradigm involving the use of spacetime manipulation. In this scheme, the light speed barrier becomes irrelevant and spacecraft no longer need to carry large mass fractions of traditional chemical or nuclear propellants and related infrastructure over distances larger than several astronomical units (AU). Travel time over very large distances will be reduced by orders of magnitude.

In a previous work by Maccon, it was proposed that ultra-high magnetic field could generate a significant curvature in space-time fabric that could suffice a spacecraft to go through it. More specifically, Maccone claims that static homogeneous magnetic/electric fields with cylindrical symmetry can create spacetime curvature which manifests itself as a traversable wormhole. Although the claim of inducing spacetime curvature is correct, Levi-Civita’s metric solution is not a wormhole.[ref]

It is speculated that future WHIP spacecraft could deploy ultrahigh magnetic fields along with exotic matter- energy fields (e.g. radial electric or magnetic fields, Casimir energy field, etc.) in space to create a wormhole and then apply conventional space propulsion to move through the throat to reach the other side in a matter of minutes or days, whence the spacecraft emerges several AU’s or light-years away from its starting point. The requirement for conventional propulsion in WHIP spacecraft would be strictly limited by the need for short travel through the wormhole throat as well as for orbital maneuvering near distant worlds. The integrated system comprising the magnetic induction/exotic field wormhole and conventional propulsion units could be called WHIPIT or “Wormhole Induction Propulsion Integrated Technology.”

It is based on the concept that magnetic field can lead to distortion in space-time fabric governed by following equation:

where a= radius of curvature of  space-time

and B=MAGNETIC FIELD.

Further ‘B’ can be calculated from the equation:

where K=3.4840*10+18 and known as radius of curvature constant. ν0 is the gravitationally induced variation of light speed within the curvature region or say speed of spacecraft. ‘L’ is the length of solenoid.

[Technical Issues: Quoted]

Traversable wormholes are creatures of classical GTR and represent non-trivial topology change in the spacetime manifold. This makes mathematicians cringe because it raises the question of whether topology can change or fluctuate to accommodate wormhole creation. Black holes and naked singularities are also creatures of GTR representing non-trivial topology change in spacetime, yet they are accepted by the astrophysics and mathematical communities — the former by Hubble Space Telescope discoveries and the latter by theoretical arguments due to Kip Thorne, Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and others. The Bohm-Aharonov effect is another example which owes its existence to non-trivial topology change in the manifold. The topology change (censorship) theorems discussed in Visser (1995) make precise mathematical statements about the “mathematician’s topology” (topology of spacetime is fixed!), however, Visser correctly points out that this is a mathematical abstraction. In fact, Visser (1990) proved that the existence of an everywhere Lorentzian metric in spacetime is not a sufficient condition to prevent topology change. Furthermore, Visser (1990, 1995) elaborates that physical probes are not sensitive to this mathematical abstraction, but instead they typically couple to the geometrical features of space. Visser (1990) also showed that it is possible for geometrical effects to mimic the effects of topology change. Topology is too limited a tool to accurately characterize a generic traversable wormhole; in general one needs geometric information to detect the presence of a wormhole, or more precisely to locate the wormhole throat (Visser, private communication, 1997).

Levi-Civita’s spacetime metric is simply a hypercylinder with a position dependent gravitational potential: no asymptotically flat region, no flared-out wormhole mouth and no wormhole throat. Maccone’s equations for the radial (hyperbolic) pressure, stress and energy density of the “magnetic wormhole” configuration are thus incorrect.

What a wormhole mouth might look like to space travelers.

In addition, directing attention on the behavior of wormhole geometry at asymptotic infinity is not too profitable. Visser (private communication, 1997; Hochberg and Visser, 1997) demonstrates that it is only the behavior near the wormhole throat that is critical to understanding what is going on, and that a generic throat can be defined without having to make all the symmetry assumptions and without assuming the existence of an asymptotically flat spacetime to embed the wormhole in. One only needs to know the generic features of the geometry near the throat in order to guarantee violations of the null energy condition (NEC; see Hawking and Ellis, 1973) for certain open regions near the throat (Visser, private communication, 1997). There are general theorems of differential geometry that guarantee that there must be NEC violations (meaning exotic matter-energy is present) at a wormhole throat. In view of this, however, it is known that static radial electric or magnetic fields are borderline exotic when threading a wormhole if their tension were infinitesimally larger, for a given energy density (Herrmann, 1989; Hawking and Ellis, 1973). Other exotic (energy condition violating) matter-energy fields are known to be squeezed states of the electromagnetic field, Casimir (electromagnetic zero-point) energy and other quantum fields/states/effects. With respect to creating wormholes, these have the unfortunate reputation of alarming physicists. This is unfounded since all the energy condition hypotheses have been experimentally tested in the laboratory and experimentally shown to be false — 25 years before their formulation (Visser, 1990 and references cited therein). Violating the energy conditions commits no offense against nature.

Interstellar Travel and WHIP[Wormhole Induction Propulsion

WHIP spacecraft will have multifunction integrated technology for propulsion. The Wormhole Induction Propulsion Integrated Technology (WHIPIT) would entail two modes. The first mode is an advanced conventional system (chemical, nuclear fission/fusion, ion/plasma, antimatter, etc.) which would provide propulsion through the wormhole throat, orbital maneuvering capability near stellar or planetary bodies, and spacecraft attitude control and orbit corrections. An important system driver affecting mission performance and cost is the overall propellant mass-fraction required for this mode. A desirable constraint limiting this to acceptable (low) levels should be that an advanced conventional system would regenerate its onboard fuel supply internally or that it obtain and process its fuel supply from the situ space environment. Other important constraints and/or performance requirements to consider for this propulsion mode would include specific impulse, thrust, energy conversion schemes, etc.

Hypothetical view of two wormhole mouths patched to a hypercylinder curvature envelope. The small (large) configuration results from the radius of curvature induced by a larger (smaller) ultrahigh magnetic field.

The second WHIPIT mode is the stardrive component. This would provide the necessary propulsion to rapidly move the spacecraft over interplanetary or interstellar distances through a traversable wormhole. The system would generate a static, cylindrically symmetric ultrahigh magnetic field to create a hypercylinder curvature envelope (gravity well) near the spacecraft to pre-stress space into a pseudo-wormhole configuration. The radius of the hypercylinder envelope should be no smaller than the largest linear dimension of the spacecraft. As the spacecraft is gravitated into the envelope, the field-generator system then changes the cylindrical magnetic field into a radial configuration while giving it a tension that is greater than its energy density. A traversable wormhole throat is then induced near the spacecraft where the hypercylinder and throat geometries are patched together. The conventional propulsion mode then kicks on to nudge the spacecraft through the throat and send its occupants on their way to adventure. This scenario would apply if ultrahigh electric fields were employed instead. If optimization of wormhole throat (geometry) creation and hyperspace tunneling distance requires a fully exotic energy field to thread the throat, then the propulsion system would need to be capable of generating and deploying a Casimir (or other exotic) energy field. Although ultrahigh magnetic/electric and exotic field generation schemes are speculative and will be left for future work.

Practical Approach

The equasuggest a way to perform a laboratory experiment whereby one could apply a powerful static homogeneous (cylindrically symmetric) magnetic field in a vacuum, thereby creating spacetime curvature in principle, and measure the speed of a light beam through it. A measurable slowing of c in this arrangement would demonstrate that a curvature effect has been created in the experiment.

From Table I, it is apparent that laboratory magnetic field strengths would need to be > 109 – 1010 so that a significant radius of curvature and slowing of c can be measured. Experiments employing chemical explosive/implosive magnetic technologies would be an ideal arrangement for this. The limit of magnetic field generation for chemical explosives/implosives is and the quantum limit for ordinary metals is ~ 50,000 Tesla. Explosion/implosion work done by Russian (MC-1 generator, ISTC grant), Los Alamos National Lab (ATLAS), National High Magnetic Field Lab and Sandia National Lab (SATURN) investigators have employed magnetic solenoids of good homogeneity with lengths of ~ 10 cm, having peak rate-of-rise of field of 109 where a few nanoseconds is spent at 1000 Tesla, and which is long enough for a good measurement of c . Further, with picosecond pulses, c could be measured to a part in 102 or 103. At 1000 Tesla, c^2 – v^2(0) 0 m^2/sec^2 and the radius of curvature is 0.368  light-years.  If the peak rate-of-rise of field (~ 10^9 Tesla/sec) can be used, then a radius of curvature £ several *10^6 km can be generated along with c^2 – v^2(0) ≥ several * 10^4 m^2/sec^2.

It will be necessary to consider advancing the state-of-art of magnetic induction technologies in order to reach static field strengths that are > 109 – 1010Tesla. Extremely sensitive measurements of c at the one part in 106 or 107 level may be necessary for laboratory experiments involving field strengths of~ 109 Tesla. Magnetic induction technologies based on nuclear explosives/implosives may need to be seriously considered in order to achieve large magnitude results. An order of magnitude calculation indicates that magnetic fields generated by nuclear pulsed energy methods could be magnified to (brief) static values of ³ 109 Tesla by factors of the nuclear-to-chemical binding energy ratio (³ 106). Other experimental methods employing CW lasers, repetitive-pulse free electron lasers, neutron beam-pumped UO2 lasers, pulsed laser-plasma interactions or pulsed hot (theta pinch) plasmas either generate insufficient magnetic field strengths for our purposes or cannot generate them at all within their operating modes.[Ref]

Tha’s why I find it quite interesting and whenever we would be capable of generating such a high magnetic field, I think it would be a prevailing propulsion technology. This effect can be used to create a wormhole by patching the hypercylinder envelope to a throat that is induced by either radially stressing the ultrahigh field or employing additional exotic energy.

[Ref: Wormhole Induction Propulsion (WHIP) by Eric W. Davis and Maccone, C. (1995) “Interstellar Travel Through Magnetic Wormholes”, JBIS, Vol. 48, No. 11, pp. 453-458]

Various Aspects of Exotic Propulsion Systems

Travelling into the dark is too hazardous especially if you wish to contact extraterrestrial civilization–even at a high relativistic speed, it would take almost 21 years to reach to the nearest earth like planet, Gliese 581 g. Various mechanisms have been proposed to make it possible within our short life times however, none of them are either feasible to accomplish the mammoth task of interstellar travel. Almost all of them have already been reviewed on WeirdSciences[select category ‘quantum physics/astrophysics’].

One means to produce force is collisions. Conventional rocket propulsion is fundamentally based on the collisions between the propellant and the rocket. These collisions thrust the rocket in one direction and the propellant in the other.To entertain the analogy of collision forces for a space drive, consider the supposition that space contains a background of some form of isotropic medium that is constantly impinging on allsides of a vehicle. This medium could be a collection of randomly moving particles or electromagnetic waves, either of which possess momentum. If the collisions on the front of a vehicle could be lessened and/or the collisions on the back enhanced, a net propulsive force would result. We know that dark matter and negative energy are ubiquitous in this universe. Quantum fluctuations are more optimistic approach to get a picture of future propulsion technologies. For any of these concepts to work, there must be a real background medium in space. This medium must have a sufficiently large energy or mass density, must exist equally and isotropically across all space, and there must be a controllable means to alter the collisions with this medium to propel the vehicle. A high energy or mass density is required to provide sufficient radiation pressure or reaction momentum within a reasonable sail area. The requirement that the medium exist equally and isotropically across all space is to ensure that the propulsion device will work anywhere and in any direction in space. The requirement that there must be a controllable means to alter the collisions ensures that a controllable propulsive effect can be created.

Critical Issues

The critical issues for both the sail and field drives have been compiled into the problem statement offered below. Simply put, a space drive requires some controllable and sustainable means to create asymmetric forces on the vehicle without expelling a reaction mass, and some means to satisfy conservation laws in the process. Regardless of which concept is explored, the following criteria must be satisfied.

(1) A mechanism must exist to interact with a property of space, matter, or energy which satisfies these conditions:
(a) must be able to induce an unidirectional acceleration of the vehicle.
(b) must be controllable.
(c) must be sustainable as the vehicle moves.
(d) must be effective enough to propel the vehicle.
(e) must satisfy conservation of momentum.
(f) must satisfy conservation of energy.

(2.1) If properties of matter or energy are used for the propulsive effect, this matter or energy…
(a) must have properties that enable conservation of momentum in the propulsive process.
(b) must exist in a form that can be controllably collected, carried, and positioned on the vehicle, or be controllably created on the vehicle.
(c) must exist in sufficiently high quantities to create a sufficient propulsive effect.

(2.2) If properties of space are used for the propulsive effect, these properties…
(a) must provide an equivalent reaction mass to conserve momentum.
(b) must be tangible; must be able to be detected and interacted with.
(c) must exist across all space and in all directions.
(d) must have a sufficiently high equivalent mass density within the span of the vehicle to be used as a propulsive reaction mass.
(e) must have characteristics that enable the propulsive effect to be sustained once the vehicle is in motion.
(3) The physics proposed for the propulsive mechanism and for the properties of space, matter, or energy used for the propulsive effect must be completely consistent with empirical observations.

Now it depend on us what kind of propulsion technology might be dispensable according to future needs.
[Ref: Challenge to Create the Space Drive by Millis M.]

Railgun: As Future Space Vehicle

While exotic propulsion technologies viz. traversable wormholes, kroniskov tubes,macroscopic casimir effects etc are quite pessimistic, railguns may still be paramount for future commercialization of space. As NASA studies possibilities for the next launcher to the stars, a team of engineers from Kennedy Space Center and several other field centers are looking for a system that turns a host of existing cutting-edge technologies into the next giant leap spaceward. An early proposal has emerged that calls for a wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets to be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled. The aircraft would fly up to Mach 10, using the scramjets and wings to lift it to the upper reaches of the atmosphere where a small payload canister or capsule similar to a rocket’s second stage would fire off the back of the aircraft and into orbit. The aircraft would come back and land on a runway by the launch site. Engineers also contend the system, with its advanced technologies, will benefit the nation’s high-tech industry by perfecting technologies that would make more efficient commuter rail systems, better batteries for cars and trucks, andnumerous other spinoffs. It might read as the latest in a series of science fiction articles, but NASA’s Stan Starr, branch chief of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Kennedy, points out that nothing in the design calls for brand-new technology to be developed. However, the system counts on a number of existing technologies to be pushed forward. He said:

All of these are technology components that have already been developed or studied. We’re just proposing to mature these technologies to a useful level, well past the level they’ve already been taken.


[Image Details: Different technologies to push a spacecraft down a long rail have been tested in several settings, including this Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) System evaluated at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Engineers have a number of options to choose from as their designs progress. Photo credit: NASA]
For example, electric tracks catapult rollercoaster riders daily at theme parks. But those tracks call for speeds of a relatively modest 60 mph — enough to thrill riders, but not nearly fast enough to launch something into space. The launcher would need to reach at least 10 times that speed over the course of two miles in Starr’s proposal. The good news is that NASA and universities already have done significant research in the field, including small-scale tracks at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and at Kennedy. The Navy also has designed a similar catapult system for its aircraft carriers.As far as the aircraft that would launch on the rail, there already are real-world tests for designers to draw on. The X-43A,or Hyper-X program, and X-51 have shown that scramjets will work and can achieve remarkable speeds.
The Advanced Space Launch System is not meant to replace the space shuttle or other program in the near future, but could be adapted to carry astronauts after unmanned missions rack up successes. The studies and development program could also be used as a basis for a commercial launch program if a company decides to take advantage of the basic research NASA performs along the way. Starr said NASA’s fundamental research has long spurred aerospace industry advancement, a trend that the advanced space launch system could continue. For now, the team proposed a 10-year plan that would start with launching a drone like those the Air Force uses. More advanced models would follow until they are ready to build one that can launch a small satellite into orbit. A rail launcher study using gas propulsion already is under way, but the team is applying for funding under several areas, including NASA’s push for technology innovation, but the engineers know it may not cometo pass. The effort is worth it, however, since there is a chance at revolutionizing launches.
Remarks: The idea of railguns goes as back as science fiction itself. Railguns are excellent for short trips like say for near orbit programmes to space stations but if you are thinking to make them applicable at very large scale, it would probably not be possible economically since it would need very large electric power supply. However I find it very useful expecially in space transportation. A while back I received an email from a reader in which he proposed another equally as good idea which I’ll describe in detail in upcoming articles. Well why to choose railguns while we have ion drives?

[Source: NASA]

Ion Thruster Could be The Only Hope For Interstellar Travel

Ion thrusters, the propulsion of choice for science fiction writers have become the propulsion of choice for scientists and engineers at NASA. The ion propulsion system’s efficient use of fuel and electrical power enable modern spacecraft to travel farther, faster and cheaper than any other propulsion technology currently available. Chemical rockets have demonstrated fuel efficiencies up to 35 percent, but ion thrusters have demonstrated fuel efficiencies over 90 percent. Currently, ion thrusters are used to keep communication satellites in the proper position relative to Earth and for the main propulsion on deep space probes. Several thrusters can be used on a spacecraft, but they are often used just one at a time. Spacecraft powered by these thrusters can reach speeds up to 90,000 meters per second (over 200,000 mph). In comparison, the Space Shuttles can reach speeds around 18,000 mph.

The trade-off for the high top speeds of ion thrusters is low thrust (or low acceleration). Current ion thrusters can provide only 0.5 newtons (or 0.1 pounds) of thrust, which is equivalent to the force you would feel by holding 10 U.S. quarters in your hand. These thrusters must be used in a vacuum to operate at the available power levels, and they cannot be used to put spacecraft in space because large amounts of thrust are needed to escape Earth’s gravity and atmosphere.

[Image Details:Artist’s concept of Deep Space 1 probe with its ion thruster operating at full power. Credit: NASA ]

To compensate for low thrust, an ion thruster must be operated for a long time for the spacecraft to reach its top speed. Acceleration continues throughout the flight, however, so tiny, constant amounts of thrust over a long time add up to much shorter travel times and much less fuel used if the destination is far away. Deep Space 1 used less than 159 pounds of fuel in over 16,000 hours of thrusting. Since much less fuel must be carried into space, smaller, lower-cost launch vehicles can be used.

Propulsion

Sir Isaac Newton’s third Law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is like air escaping from the end of a balloon and propelling it forward. Conventional chemical rockets burn a fuel with an oxidizer to make a gas propellant. Large amounts of the gas push out at relatively low speeds to propel the spacecraft.
Modern ion thrusters use inert gases for propellant, so there is no risk of the explosions associated with chemical propulsion. The majority of thrusters use xenon, which is chemically inert, colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Other inert gases, such as krypton and argon, also can be used. Only relatively small amounts of ions are ejected, but they are traveling at very high speeds. For the Deep Space 1 probe, ions were shot out at 146,000 kilometers per hour (more than 88,000 mph).

Making Ions and Plasma

Ion thrusters eject ions instead of combustion gases to create thrust: the force applied to the spacecraft that makes it move forward. An ion is simply an atom or molecule that has an electrical charge because it has lost (positive ion) or gained (negative ion) an electron. With ion propulsion, the ions have lost electrons, so they are positively charged. A gas is considered to be ionized when some or all the atoms or molecules contained in it are converted into ions.

Plasma is an electrically neutral gas in which all positive and negative charges–from neutral atoms, negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions–add up to zero. Plasma exists everywhere in nature (for example, lightning and fluorescent light bulbs), and it is designated as the fourth state of matter (the others are solid, liquid and gas). It has some of the properties of a gas but is affected by electric and magnetic fields and is a good conductor of electricity. Plasma is the building block for all types of electric propulsion, where electric and/or magnetic fields are used to accelerate the electrically charged ions and electrons to provide thrust. In ion thrusters, plasma is made up of positive ions and an equal amount of electrons.

NASA’s conventional method of producing ions is called electron bombardment. The propellant is injected into the ionization chamber from the downstream end of the thruster and flows toward the upstream end. This injection method is preferred because it increases the time that the propellant remains in the chamber.

In such ion thrusters, electrons are generated by a hollow cathode, called the discharge cathode, located at the center of the thruster on the upstream end. The electrons flow out of the discharge cathode and are attracted (like hot socks pulled out of a dryer on a cold day) to the discharge chamber walls, which are charged highly positive by the thruster’s power supply.

Diagram showing discharge hollow cathode, anode, hollow cathode neutralizer, magnetic field, etc.

[Image Details: Ion thruster operation: Step 1–Electrons (shown as small, pale green spheres) are emitted by the discharge hollow cathode, traverse the discharge chamber, and are collected by the anode walls. Step 2–Propellant (shown in green) is injected from the plenum and travels toward the discharge cathode. Step 3–Electrons impact the propellant atoms to create ions (shown in blue). Step 4–Ions are pulled out of the discharge chamber by the ion optics. Step 5–Electrons are injected into the beam for neutralization. Credit: NASA]

When a high-energy electron (negative charge) from the discharge cathode hits, or bombards, a propellant atom (neutral charge), a second electron is released, yielding two negative electrons and one positively charged ion. High-strength magnets are placed along the discharge chamber walls so that as electrons approach the walls, they are redirected into the discharge chamber by the magnetic fields. Maximizing the length of time that electrons and propellant atoms remain in the discharge chamber, increases the chances that the atoms will be ionized.

NASA also is researching electron cyclotron resonance to create ions. This method uses high-frequency radiation (usually microwaves) coupled with a high magnetic field to add energy to the electrons in the propellant atoms. This causes the electrons to break free of the propellant atoms and create plasma. Ions can then be extracted from this plasma.

In a gridded ion thruster, ions are accelerated by electrostatic forces. The electric fields used for this acceleration are generated by two electrodes, called ion optics or grids, at the downstream end of the thruster. The greater the voltage difference between the two grids, the faster the positive ions move toward the negative charge. Each grid has thousands of coaxial apertures (or tiny holes). The two grids are spaced close together (but not touching), and the apertures are exactly aligned with each other. Each set of apertures (opposite holes) acts like a lens to electrically focus ions through the optics.

NASA’s ion thrusters use a two-electrode system, where the upstream electrode (called the screen grid) is charged highly positive, and the downstream electrode (called the accelerator grid) is charged highly negative. Since the ions are generated in a region that is highly positive and the accelerator grid’s potential is negative, the ions are attracted toward the accelerator grid and are focused out of the discharge chamber through the apertures, creating thousands of ion jets. The stream of all the ion jets together is called the ion beam. The thrust is the force that exists between the upstream ions and the accelerator grid. The exhaust velocity of the ions in the beam is based on the voltage applied to the optics. Whereas a chemical rocket’s top speed is limited by the heat-producing capability of the rocket nozzle, the ion thruster’s top speed is limited by the voltage that is applied to the ion optics, which is theoretically unlimited.

Because the ion thruster ejects a large amount of positive ions, an equal amount of negative charge must be ejected to keep the total charge of the exhaust beam neutral. Otherwise, the spacecraft itself would attract the ions. A second hollow cathode called the neutralizer is located on the downstream perimeter of the thruster and pushes out the needed electrons.

Electric Propulsion System

The ion propulsion system consists of five main parts: the power source, the power processing unit, the propellant management system, the control computer, and the ion thruster. The power source can be any source of electrical power, but solar or nuclear are usually used. A solar electric propulsion system (like that on Deep Space 1) uses sunlight and solar cells to generate power. A nuclear electric propulsion system (like that planned for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter) uses a nuclear heat source coupled to an electric generator.

Photograph: HiPEP ion thruster being tested at 20 kilowatts.
[Image Details: HiPEP ion thruster being tested at 20 kilowatts in Glenn’s Vacuum Facility 6. For comparison, a household microwave operates at about 1 kilowatt. Credit: NASA]

The power processing unit converts the electrical power generated by the power source into the power required for each component of the ion thruster. It generates the voltages required by the ion optics and discharge chamber and the high currents required for the hollow cathodes. The propellant management system controls the propellant flow from the propellant tank to the thruster and hollow cathodes. It has been developed to the point that it no longer requires moving parts. The control computer controls and monitors system performance. The ion thruster then processes the propellant and power to propel the spacecraft. The first ion thrusters did not last very long, but the ion thruster on Deep Space 1 exceeded expectations and was used more than 16,000 hours during a period of over 2 years. The ion thrusters being developed now are being designed to operate for 7 to 10 years.

[Via: NASA]

Negative Energy And Interstellar Travel

Can a region of space contain less than nothing? Common sense would say no; the most one could do is remove all matter and radiation and be left with vacuum. But quantum physics has a proven ability to confound intuition, and this case is no exception. A region of space, it turns out, can contain less than nothing. Its energy per unit volume–the energy density–can be less than zero.

Needless to say, the implications are bizarre. According to Einstein’s theory of gravity, general relativity, the presence of matter and energy warps the geometric fabric of space and time. What we perceive as gravity is the space-time distortion produced by normal, positive energy or mass. But when negative energy or mass–so-called exotic matter–bends space-time, all sorts of amazing phenomena might become possible: traversable wormholes, which could act as tunnels to otherwise distant parts of the universe; warp drive, which would allow for faster-than-light travel; and time machines, which might permit journeys into the past. Negative energy could even be used to make perpetual-motion machines or to destroy black holes. A Star Trek episode could not ask for more.

For physicists, these ramifications set off alarm bells. The potential paradoxes of backward time travel–such as killing your grandfather before your father is conceived–have long been explored in science fiction, and the other consequences of exotic matter are also problematic. They raise a question of fundamental importance: Do the laws of physics that permit negative energy place any limits on its behavior?

We and others have discovered that nature imposes stringent constraints on the magnitude and duration of negative energy, which (unfortunately, some would say) appear to render the construction of wormholes and warp drives very unlikely.

Double Negative

Before proceeding further, we should draw the reader’s attention to what negative energy is not.

It should not be confused with antimatter, which has positive energy. When an electron and its antiparticle, a positron, collide, they annihilate. The end products are gamma rays, which carry positive energy. If antiparticles were composed of negative energy, such an interaction would result in a final energy of zero.

One should also not confuse negative energy with the energy associated with the cosmological constant, postulated in inflationary models of the universe. Such a constant represents negative pressure but positive energy.

The concept of negative energy is not pure fantasy; some of its effects have even been produced in the laboratory. They arise from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which requires that the energy density of any electric, magnetic or other field fluctuate randomly. Even when the energy density is zero on average, as in a vacuum, it fluctuates. Thus, the quantum vacuum can never remain empty in the classical sense of the term; it is a roiling sea of “virtual” particles spontaneously popping in and out of existence [see “Exploiting Zero-Point Energy,” by Philip Yam; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, December 1997]. In quantum theory, the usual notion of zero energy corresponds to the vacuum with all these fluctuations.

So if one can somehow contrive to dampen the undulations, the vacuum will have less energy than it normally does–that is, less than zero energy.[See, Casimir Starcraft: Zero Point Energy]

  • Negative Energy

Space time distortion is common method proposed for hyperluminal travel. Such space-time contortions would enable another staple of science fiction as well: faster-than-light travel.Warp drive might appear to violate Einstein’s special theory of relativity. But special relativity says that you cannot outrun a light signal in a fair race in which you and the signal follow the same route. When space-time is warped, it might be possible to beat a light signal by taking a different route, a shortcut. The contraction of space-time in front of the bubble and the expansion behind it create such a shortcut.

One problem with Alcubierre’s original model that the interior of the warp bubble is causally disconnected from its forward edge. A starship captain on the inside cannot steer the bubble or turn it on or off; some external agency must set it up ahead of time. To get around this problem, Krasnikov proposed a “superluminal subway,” a tube of modified space-time (not the same as a wormhole) connecting Earth and a distant star. Within the tube, superluminal travel in one direction is possible. During the outbound journey at sublight speed, a spaceship crew would create such a tube. On the return journey, they could travel through it at warp speed. Like warp bubbles, the subway involves negative energy.

Negative energy is so strange that one might think it must violate some law of physics.

Before and after the creation of equal amounts of negative and positive energy in previously empty space, the total energy is zero, so the law of conservation of energy is obeyed. But there are many phenomena that conserve energy yet never occur in the real world. A broken glass does not reassemble itself, and heat does not spontaneously flow from a colder to a hotter body. Such effects are forbidden by the second law of thermodynamics.

This general principle states that the degree of disorder of a system–its entropy–cannot decrease on its own without an input of energy. Thus, a refrigerator, which pumps heat from its cold interior to the warmer outside room, requires an external power source. Similarly, the second law also forbids the complete conversion of heat into work.

Negative energy potentially conflicts with the second law. Imagine an exotic laser, which creates a steady outgoing beam of negative energy. Conservation of energy requires that a byproduct be a steady stream of positive energy. One could direct the negative energy beam off to some distant corner of the universe, while employing the positive energy to perform useful work. This seemingly inexhaustible energy supply could be used to make a perpetual-motion machine and thereby violate the second law. If the beam were directed at a glass of water, it could cool the water while using the extracted positive energy to power a small motor–providing a refrigerator with no need for external power. These problems arise not from the existence of negative energy per se but from the unrestricted separation of negative and positive energy.

Unfettered negative energy would also have profound consequences for black holes. When a black hole forms by the collapse of a dying star, general relativity predicts the formation of a singularity, a region where the gravitational field becomes infinitely strong. At this point, general relativity–and indeed all known laws of physics–are unable to say what happens next. This inability is a profound failure of the current mathematical description of nature. So long as the singularity is hidden within an event horizon, however, the damage is limited. The description of nature everywhere outside of the horizon is unaffected. For this reason, Roger Penrose of Oxford proposed the cosmic censorship hypothesis: there can be no naked singularities, which are unshielded by event horizons.

For special types of charged or rotating black holes– known as extreme black holes–even a small increase in charge or spin, or a decrease in mass, could in principle destroy the horizon and convert the hole into a naked singularity. Attempts to charge up or spin up these black holes using ordinary matter seem to fail for a variety of reasons. One might instead envision producing a decrease in mass by shining a beam of negative energy down the hole, without altering its charge or spin, thus subverting cosmic censorship. One might create such a beam, for example, using a moving mirror. In principle, it would require only a tiny amount of negative energy to produce a dramatic change in the state of an extreme black hole.

[Image Details: Pulses of negative energy are permitted by quantum theory but only under three conditions. First, the longer the pulse lasts, the weaker it must be (a, b). Second, a pulse of positive energy must follow. The magnitude of the positive pulse must exceed that of the initial negative one. Third, the longer the time interval between the two pulses, the larger the positive one must be – an effect known as quantum interest (c).]

Therefore, this might be the scenario in which negative energy is the most likely to produce macroscopic effects.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), although quantum theory allows the existence of negative energy, it also appears to place strong restrictions – known as quantum inequalities – on its magnitude and duration.The inequalities bear some resemblance to the uncertainty principle. They say that a beam of negative energy cannot be arbitrarily intense for an arbitrarily long time. The permissible magnitude of the negative energy is inversely related to its temporal or spatial extent. An intense pulse of negative energy can last for a short time; a weak pulse can last longer. Furthermore, an initial negative energy pulse must be followed by a larger pulse of positive energy.The larger the magnitude of the negative energy, the nearer must be its positive energy counterpart. These restrictions are independent of the details of how the negative energy is produced. One can think of negative energy as an energy loan. Just as a debt is negative money that has to be repaid, negative energy is an energy deficit.

In the Casimir effect, the negative energy density between the plates can persist indefinitely, but large negative energy densities require a very small plate separation. The magnitude of the negative energy density is inversely proportional to the fourth power of the plate separation. Just as a pulse with a very negative energy density is limited in time, very negative Casimir energy density must be confined between closely spaced plates. According to the quantum inequalities, the energy density in the gap can be made more negative than the Casimir value, but only temporarily. In effect, the more one tries to depress the energy density below the Casimir value, the shorter the time over which this situation can be maintained.

When applied to wormholes and warp drives, the quantum inequalities typically imply that such structures must either be limited to submicroscopic sizes, or if they are macroscopic the negative energy must be confined to incredibly thin bands. In 1996 we showed that a submicroscopic wormhole would have a throat radius of no more than about 10-32 meter. This is only slightly larger than the Planck length, 10-35 meter, the smallest distance that has definite meaning. We found that it is possible to have models of wormholes of macroscopic size but only at the price of confining the negative energy to an extremely thin band around the throat. For example, in one model a throat radius of 1 meter requires the negative energy to be a band no thicker than 10-21 meter, a millionth the size of a proton.

It is estimated that the negative energy required for this size of wormhole has a magnitude equivalent to the total energy generated by 10 billion stars in one year. The situation does not improve much for larger wormholes. For the same model, the maximum allowed thickness of the negative energy band is proportional to the cube root of the throat radius. Even if the throat radius is increased to a size of one light-year, the negative energy must still be confined to a region smaller than a proton radius, and the total amount required increases linearly with the throat size.

It seems that wormhole engineers face daunting problems. They must find a mechanism for confining large amounts of negative energy to extremely thin volumes. So-called cosmic strings, hypothesized in some cosmological theories, involve very large energy densities in long, narrow lines. But all known physically reasonable cosmic-string models have positive energy densities.

Warp drives are even more tightly constrained, as shown working with us. In Alcubierre’s model, a warp bubble traveling at 10 times lightspeed (warp factor 2, in the parlance of Star Trek: The Next Generation) must have a wall thickness of no more than 10-32 meter. A bubble large enough to enclose a starship 200 meters across would require a total amount of negative energy equal to 10 billion times the mass of the observable universe. Similar constraints apply to Krasnikov’s superluminal subway.

A modification of Alcubierre’s model was recently constructed by Chris Van Den Broeck of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. It requires much less negative energy but places the starship in a curved space-time bottle whose neck is about 10-32 meter across, a difficult feat. These results would seem to make it rather unlikely that one could construct wormholes and warp drives using negative energy generated by quantum effects.

The quantum inequalities prevent violations of the second law. If one tries to use a pulse of negative energy to cool a hot object, it will be quickly followed by a larger pulse of positive energy, which reheats the object. A weak pulse of negative energy could remain separated from its positive counterpart for a longer time, but its effects would be indistinguishable from normal thermal fluctuations. Attempts to capture or split off negative energy from positive energy also appear to fail. One might intercept an energy beam, say, by using a box with a shutter. By closing the shutter, one might hope to trap a pulse of negative energy before the offsetting positive energy arrives. But the very act of closing the shutter creates an energy flux that cancels out the negative energy it was designed to trap.

A pulse of negative energy injected into a charged black hole might momentarily destroy the horizon, exposing the singularity within. But the pulse must be followed by a pulse of positive energy, which would convert the naked singularity back into a black hole – a scenario we have dubbed cosmic flashing. The best chance to observe cosmic flashing would be to maximize the time separation between the negative and positive energy, allowing the naked singularity to last as long as possible. But then the magnitude of the negative energy pulse would have to be very small, according to the quantum inequalities. The change in the mass of the black hole caused by the negative energy pulse will get washed out by the normal quantum fluctuations in the hole’s mass, which are a natural consequence of the uncertainty principle. The view of the naked singularity would thus be blurred, so a distant observer could not unambiguously verify that cosmic censorship had been violated.

Recently it was shown that the quantum inequalities lead to even stronger bounds on negative energy. The positive pulse that necessarily follows an initial negative pulse must do more than compensate for the negative pulse; it must overcompensate. The amount of overcompensation increases with the time interval between the pulses. Therefore, the negative and positive pulses can never be made to exactly cancel each other. The positive energy must always dominate–an effect known as quantum interest. If negative energy is thought of as an energy loan, the loan must be repaid with interest. The longer the loan period or the larger the loan amount, the greater is the interest. Furthermore, the larger the loan, the smaller is the maximum allowed loan period. Nature is a shrewd banker and always calls in its debts. The concept of negative energy touches on many areas of physics: gravitation, quantum theory, thermodynamics. The interweaving of so many different parts of physics illustrates the tight logical structure of the laws of nature. On the one hand, negative energy seems to be required to reconcile black holes with thermodynamics. On the other, quantum physics prevents unrestricted production of negative energy, which would violate the second law of thermodynamics. Whether these restrictions are also features of some deeper underlying theory, such as quantum gravity, remains to be seen. Nature no doubt has more surprises in store.

Review On Some Most Exotic Propulsion Technologies

Talking about alien technologies! However why to forget miraculous exotic propulsion which are supported by our theory but aliens made it practical in our sci-fi movies and novel? WeirdSciences is known for its space dimension theoretical approach and for extraterrestrial life. Here are some new exotic propulsion methodologies and some of them, probably you have never heard of. Be ready for the tour!!

Emergency Warp Power Cell

In desperate situations, it may become necessary for a starship to jettison its warp core to prevent it from being destroyed by a massive antimatter or zero-point explosion. Though at the time it meant immediate survival for the ship and crew, but it also means that without a power generator for the warp drive, a starship will be stranded years to centuries away from anything that can be considered a safe harbour. A rare, yet possible situation can occur if the warp core has been declared irretrievable, a rescue ship cannot reach the ship in distress (SID) in time for some reason, and the ship is trapped in the massive void between stars. This situation will spell disaster for the ship and crew. But a new piece of equipment will replace the lost warp core in this emergency situation and allow the ship to reach a safe haven. The Emergency Warp Power Cell (EWPC).

The EWPC in simplest terms is a large scale matter/antimatter fuel cell, similar to those used on photon torpedo propulsion systems. The fuel cell is designed to be placed on the existing warp power conduits where the missing warp core use to be. It travels up the warp core shaft and is anchored by the same tether beams that held the warp core in place. A typical fuel cell works by injecting antiprotons directly into the plasma power conduits. Energy is conducted in the power conduit by the high speed motion of the plasma particles. As in billiards, the energy is conducted when a moving plasma particle hits a second plasma particle and transfers its kinetic energy to the second particle, the second to the third, third to the fourth, and so on. The antiprotons reacting with the plasma initiates the high kinetic energy transfer. But the EWPC uses a specialized plasma tank for the antimatter reaction to take place without risking unnecessary damage to the warp power conduits. Plasma for the EWPC is provided by ionizing deuterium from the ships storage tanks.

Though the fuel cell is somewhat simpler in design, an antimatter reactor that uses dilithium is far more fuel efficient because dilithium acts as a focusing lens for the annihilation reaction. The fuel cell uses a series of high intensity magnetic containment fields to propel the plasma in the desired direction. These containment fields uses a considerable amounts of power to use, and can lead the fuel cell to generate considerable amounts of heat. Therefore 20% of the fuel cell is a cryogenic cooling system to keep the fuel cell within safe thermal limits.

The antiprotons for the fuel cell doesn’t come from conventional antimatter, but from a stable heavy isotope, specifically element 115. Element 115 is used because when it’s bombarded with high energy protons, the element transmutes into element 116, which is unstable, and decays releasing antimatter particles, which are easily collected. Recycling element 115 is by the use of an atomic resequencer, a component found in industrial replicators. This antimatter fuel source is typically used by the Zeta Reticulans, the aliens species humans use to call the Greys.

Since the fuel cell generates only so much power, the main energizers are disconnected from the warp power matrix, so all the fuel cell’s energy is transferred to the warp nacelles. Critical systems, such as life support, are switched to auxiliary power. Despite its low power output, the fuel cell can generate enough power to slowly accelerate and maintain Warp 4 for a starship and allow it to travel a distance of 10 light-years, depending on the starship. Even though 10 light-years is not a very far distance to travel by early 25th century standards, 10 light-years could allow a starship to reach a star system with a habitable or adaptable planet. This will allow the crew to survive until a rescue ship arrives.[Ref]

Negative Mass Warp Drive

By the use of a subspace displacement field, starships are capable of travelling faster than the speed of light by catastrophically collapsing the space in front of the ship and expanding the space behind it. But some particles, such as tachyons, are capable of travelling faster than light and exist within normal space because these particles are composed of negative mass.

Whereas normal mass, which are found in planets and starships, generates a depression or trough in the fabric of the space time continuum, prohibiting faster than light travel, negative mass generates a crest in the fabric of the space time continuum, allowing faster than light travel. By making use of this field, Starfleet develops a new mode of propulsion known as the Negative Mass Warp Drive, or Negative Mass Drive. The warp field coils within the nacelles generates a subspace field whose properties “reflects” gravitons in a similar fashion to a mirror reflecting light. The reflected gravitons causes a phase shift in the natural gravitational field of the ship allowing the ship to attain negative mass properties. Resulting in faster than light travel.

The negative mass drive has an advantage over conventional warp drive. Though initially slower than warp drive, with the use of the ship’s impulse engines the negative mass drive can constantly accelerate the ship until its fuel supply is exhausted. Whereas conventional warp has a maximum warp limit. This is because warp drive can only collapse and expand space at a certain rate which leaves this limit. Negative mass drive allows the ship to “exist” beyond the light barrier, and is still subjected to basic physics, such as acceleration.

By reason of power conservation, the engines only reflects 51% of the gravitons generated by the ships mass. Because reflecting 50% of the gravitons will cancel out the effects of the remaining 50% of the un-reflected gravitons, neutralizing the ships space warp. The added 1% allows the ship to travel faster than light. It would make no sense to use 100% power where it is not needed. Unlike quantum mechanics, whose nature is very turbulent, relative physics is very laminar, or smooth, which substantially reduces the risk of a ship being sheared apart by the jump to warp speeds with the negative mass drive. The engines are powered by standard matter/antimatter reactions. Since the engines themselves only requires a certain amount of power, more specifically equivalent to warp 4, the remaining antimatter power is then channelled to the impulse engines to allow the ship to accelerate at a much greater rate. In many cases, ships whose warp power conduits and the impulse engines are almost literally metres apart the ships that normally have the new engines installed. Sometimes even ships whose warp and impulse drives share a common power source, such as an intermix chamber. This results in reduced refit time and reduced modification and redesign of the ships. Such ships include the Intrepid class, Defiant class, Akira class, as well as the retired Enterprise class.

With this new drive, there has been some heated debate as to what happens when the instant the ship jumps to warp. For that instant, the ship attains exactly 50% space inversion, which results in 100% neutral space warp. Most scientists and engineers agree that the ship travels at light speed, warp factor 1. But there are some maverick scientists who believe that for an infinitely small amount of time, the ship attains warp factor 10, infinite velocities. Because of the advantage of constant acceleration, some speculate that within several months of acceleration with the negative mass drive can allow the ship to reach speeds equivalent to transwarp speeds or slipstream velocities.

Singularity Propulsion

  • Theory

A quantum singularity is usually a naturally occurring phenomenon. Also called a black hole, a quantum singularity is usually a result of a collapsed big star, such as a red supergiant. The quantum singularity emits a large amount of gravitons, rendering escape from the deep event horizon impossible at or below c. Space around the singularity is folded so that imaginary gravity lines (as presented in some diagrams) follow equation f(r)=1/r (a two-quadrant cutaway diagram of the black hole would have f(r)=-|1/r|) up to a point, though I’m not going to get into very specific details.

There is no evidence of what is actually inside a black hole, only that most black holes have “donut singularities.” These singularities are ring-shaped and it is possible that they might connect to another black hole, forming a bridge between to places, two time frames, two universes, or a combination of the three. When the two join, one of them has to become a white hole (the exact opposite of a black hole). Using an analogy, instead of being “the universe’s vacuum cleaner,” it would be like a blow dryer. A white hole expels everything and nothing can get in, only get out. When a black hole and another black hole or a white hole connect, they form a wormhole, although it is only one way, toward the direction of the white hole. The “wall” of the bridge, however, is too narrow for an object bigger than 10 atomic masses (that is including molecules and atoms). So, if there is some kind of an antigravity field (it is probably an antigraviton particle emitter), that would keep the bridge from disconnecting and would keep it wide enough for a vessel to get through. A wormhole, unlike a black hole-to-white hole bridge, serves as a two-way gateway to a different time, place, or universe. A wormhole can be destabilized with antiverterons and antitachyon pulses.

There are three ways to get to a destination (from point A to point B). The “usual” way, in which line AB is distance d. The way of the “worm,” in which line AB is distance d-x (where x is the length of the wormhole and d-x<d). And there is also the “0” way, where space is bent so that the two points, A and B merge to form a new point, C, in which line AB has a distance of zero. Singularity propulsion takes the third road.

  • Application

Singularity propulsion is one of the first FTL (Faster Than Light) propulsions that a typical civilization would attempt, since this theory usually is the first that a civilization comes up with (think of Stephen Hawking on Earth). The attempt would usually fail, as the civilization does not have the technology to detect very small, to them yet unthinkable particles. That civilization also thinks that a matter-antimatter meeting can tear up the fabric of space, but that is not the way to do that.

In order to commence the singularity propulsion, a ship needs to be in outer space, preferably outside a solar system, in case of an accident. One would also need a graviton, tachyon, verteron, and chroniton generator and their appropriate counterparts to shut the rift down. First, one needs to launch a graviton generator outside of the ship, about 1000km away. Once the generator starts up, one would need to monitor the gravitons carefully, as the emissions tend to increase over time. Once the generator emits a graviton field of 100S (1S = 1 solar mass = Sol), a short burst of antigravitons would make the emissions slow down significantly. A moment later one would need to emit tachyons and verterons simultaneously. Together, tachyons and verterons would open a stable rift. They will connect the point of destination to the point of origin, so that the distance between them is 0. If only verterons are used, the rift will evaporate, since the rift itself would emit verterons. If only tachyons are used, the rift will be stable, but only for a short while. In addition, the generator would burn out. Chronitons do not have to be used unless the travelers want to end up at a some random time in our universe. Chronitons would tie the point of destination’s time to the point of origin’s. All particles, however, have to be of a certain frequency and each sector and time in the universe has a different signature. One can even attempt time travel with this technology.

Some species do have this technology, such as the Q and the Bajoran wormhole prophets. As one gets closer to a singularity, one can obtain god-like powers because that one can exist everywhere, in every universe, time and place, since the 4 dimensions are useless on (or in) the singularity, one can assume that these “godly” beings actually live in the wormhole. They might have lived there their whole lives (they were implanted there) or a ship might have been caught and somehow there were survivors for whom linear time has no meaning. Some species are experienced with linear time enough to understand it, such as Q. Admiral Janeway (“Endgame”) attempted and succeeded in opening a “0” rift linking year 2404 in the Alpha Quadrant to the year 2378 in the Delta Quadrant. The rift was created by using only tachyons and chronitons, so her device burned out.

Tachyon Drive

Tachyons have been talked about, used, and abused in many ways from the conventional, such as communications, to the absurd, such as creating an anti-time anomaly. In 2504, it is the first time that this common faster-than-light particle is used for propulsion. It was first truly theorized in 2371 when commander Benjamin Sisko and his son Jake recreated a Bajoran solar sailing ship which legend says was able to reach Cardassian space. This ship was caught in tachyon eddies in the Denorios belt pushing it to warp speeds due to the unique design of the sailing ship.

In theory tachyons are capable of traveling faster than light speed and being able to exist in normal space is because this particle has negative mass. Conventional mass, such as what makes up the matter in starships, cannot travel at light speed, let alone faster than light speeds. Light itself has no mass and therefore can travel at light. However negative mass, which is on the other side of the light scale, can travel faster than light.

Some have speculated that by collecting and storing enough tachyons, this will neutralize the ships natural mass to allow it to travel faster than the speed of light. However, in order to neutralize enough mass for warp 1 travel, light speed travel, a 4.5 million metric tonne Galaxy class starship would need to store -4.5 million metric tonnes of tachyon particles. And even more for it to travel beyond warp 1. This is even more difficult since tachyons cannot simply be stored, in essence, the same way deuterium can be stored.

The dream of a tachyon drive however had not died. The old M2P2 drive of the 21st century, like those used on the old DY starships, uses a solar powered electromagnetic field to gather ionized gases from the sun, and have the solar winds push the newly formed plasma field along with the ship like an electromagnetic sail. A spatial distortion field would be used in a similar fashion to the M2P2 drive to collect enough of the free tachyon particles in the field, concentrate them, and use their negative mass field to cancel out the ships mass as well as allow the ship to travel faster than the speed of light.The tachyon drive would be simpler than conventional warp drive because it doesn’t have to maintain a proper balance between the 2 warp nacelles and won’t need to cause a deliberate imbalance in the warp field to steer the ship at warp. Steering with tachyon drive can be done by the impulse engines. In relative size, it would be more conceivable for small or medium size ships, from shuttle pods to no bigger than the Phoenix class starships, to use the tachyon drives. But it is possible for the heaviest federations ships, such as the Galaxy class and Pelagic class ships, to use this drive.

Travel through Hyperspace

Hyperspace, what is that anyway? Generally, hyperspace is a space of higher dimensions, meaning dimensions beyond the three known dimensions of space and the one of time. These “higher” dimensions are outside the limits of our perception and, for the most part, of our understanding too. Nevertheless, the principle may be explained with a simple example: Let us assume that we are small, two-dimensional worms, and that we are crawling on an infinitely large sheet of paper. We live in peace, and everything is as usual. But one day, a smart physicist devises the idea that there might be a third dimension aside from the two well-known dimensions of our sheet of paper. If he were able to climb into a rocket and leave for the third dimension, he would disappear in the eyes of his fellow worms, as soon as he would leave the paper surface. He could then, without any reasonable explanation, reappear at any other place of the surface. It is quite similar with our hyperspace. But more about that later.

For a long time, hyperspace travel has been of little interest to the spacecraft engineers of Starfleet until 2381, just one year ago, Federation archaeologists discovered the remains of a long extinguished civilization in the Ventana system at the edge of the Beta Quadrant. After deciphering the millennia old databanks, scientists faced an incredible amount of data about hyperspace and ways of taking advantage of it. Apparently, they have discovered a civilization that had unveiled one of the last secrets of our universe, the physics of higher dimensions.

Theory

The following paragraph illustrates the course of a travel through hyperspace, as it could be done on Federation starships. To get into hyperspace in the first place, a “window” needs to be opened to the higher dimensions, virtually lifting the ship into hyperspace. The creation of such a gate would be very energy consuming and complex. Actually, that much energy is required, as cannot be provided by any available or known source to date. But in order to circumvent this problem, engineers may apply a little trick. They “borrow” energy from the vacuum. We owe our thanks to a variant of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. The Uncertainty Principle doesn’t only apply to the location and velocity of a particle, but also to its energy and the time over which it has this energy. The formula is: h ~ E x t (the Planck constant is approximately the energy times the time). Thus, an amount of energy E must be “paid back” (transferred into the vacuum) after a time t. This means that the more energy is borrowed, the sooner it must be given back in order not to violate energy conservation. But this circumstance alone would not suffice to enable hyperspace travel, as the window would collapse as soon as the energy would be given back, so the net result would be zero.

The second lucky circumstance is that the creation of a gate would require much more galactic energy than its maintenance, for which a normal matter/antimatter reaction may be sufficient. Therefore, the sequence of events may be as follows: We borrow and amount of energy, Ev. With the energy from the reactor, Er , plus Ev we obtain the total energy Et that is necessary to build the gate: Ev + Er = Et. Then we return the energy Ev in a time t = h/Ev, and what remains is the energy Er from the reactor, just sufficient to maintain the window. This way, we achieve a maximum effect with a minimum amount of “true” energy.

Implementation

So far for the theory, now for the practice: The starship or an outpost launches, with a conventional photon torpedo launcher, a beacon with an M/AM reactor and a so-called collector, capable of borrowing energy from the vacuum. This beacon builds up the window in the above explained fashion and keeps it up for about one minute. But the starship may not yet enter into hyperspace. This is because the higher-dimensional space is being almost completely evacuated as soon as the gate is opened. No one can yet explain why this is so. Anyway, this would force all starships already in hyperspace to leave it here and now, irrespective of their planned destination. To avoid this effect, a certain neutrino imprint is applied to the window during its creation, each ship having its individual imprint. But why neutrinos of all particles? The reason is that neutrinos interact in a special way with the gate and are able to leave something like a finger print. Now, only starships with a matching print may pass the gate. Without this technology, only ships going from one system into the same system could be in hyperspace at the same time. The imprint also plays an important role when leaving hyperspace. More about that later.

As soon as we are in hyperspace, the second step is taken. In every important system (e.g. Sol) gravitation wave emitters and receivers have been positioned, as well as an array of the above described beacons. These emitters permanently generate gravitational waves of a certain frequency, as it is the only type of waves capable of propagating in hyperspace (light, for instance, is not). The starship in hyperspace receives these frequencies of the systems and replies with the specific frequency of the destination system. In addition, it transmits, coded in gravitational waves, a data package that is received in all systems. As this is received by the receiver of the destination system, a window to hyperspace may be created as described above, with exactly the neutrino imprint of the starship. The ship is hurled out of subspace and finds itself at the destination. One thing remains to be mentioned: The starship in hyperspace may open a gate itself, but the place of exit would be completely coincidental. It could emerge anywhere in the universe.

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