Thursday, July 06, 2006

Deep Space Travel

. : Technology : .

I think that space travel is quite fascinating. I guess you could say that it is my blood since I have a grandparent who was big in the industry. Ever since people latched on to Asimov's idea of hyperspatial travel, people in general just assumed that pretty soon we would be trouncing around the galaxy. Shows like Star Trek gave us the idea that jumping around our quadrant was an everyday occurrence. The Jetsons made us think that it would be right around the corner. Even the movie Blade Runner gave us the idea that after the year 2000, space travel would be the norm.

The reality however is that as fast as technology has accelerated, it has not been able to catch up with the special effects department of Hollywood. Getting to the moon and back is our best accomplishment to date for human travel. While this took a great amount of new ideas and new technology, it pales in comparison to science fiction. A fun but probably slightly outdated read can be found here.

What we do have is a lot less glamorous, but in my mind it is equally cool. The Gravitational Slingshot method was used to send the Cassini-Huygens probe to Saturn. I found the picture below on Wikipedia which demonstrates how we used the gravitational pull of the sun and several planets to accelerate our way out to Saturn.

Cassini Interplanetary Trajectory

This is the limit of our current technology. Even if we were able to travel at the speed of light (which we are nowhere near close to), it would take several years to get to another star. I think the learning curve on safe and ordinary space travel that has been dangled in front of us for years will be much slower than touted. However that does not mean that we should slow down or give up. There is enough to explore right here for now.


III said...

YES! I'm the first to leave a comment.

Thank you for the incredibly nerdy topic, Mr. Spock. "Yuppy blogging" should be about love, politics, pop culture, or Rick Warren. Leave the pimply-faced teenage stuff behind.

Jordan said...

I am sorry if my witty retort is above your current intellectual level. I will attempt to use the vernacular next time I attempt to enlighten the world.

Mad Rappin EW said...

I'm glad you finally got a blog Jordan. I would actually read it but I have two girls here giving me the dirty look waiting for me to get off the computer. We're done muckin here in New Orleans, anywho I'll see ya on Sunday.

So Philip has a blog? I'm gonna have to check that out. Could be scary