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Questions tagged [deep-space]

Questions about deep space travel and observations that are related to the distance between the object in question and the Earth. For example, questions about communications delay, radial resolution, means of propulsion through the interstellar medium, e.t.c. Deep space does not exclude space near or around other celestial bodies past our Solar system's heliosphere, and should not be confused with the term "interstellar".

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What is the feasibility of launching a probe to Sedna?

This dwarf planet reaches perihelion in the summer of 2076. At a distance of 76 au, is it feasible to launch a probe that would reach Sedna in time? With an orbital period of over 11,000 years, this ...
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What does NASA mean when they use the term 'PDT (ERT)'

In a graphic describing Cassini's final approach to Saturn NASA lists the timestamps as 4:55 am PDT (ERT). What does this mean? I am assuming that PDT mean pacific time, but I can't find out what ERT ...
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Why do deep space probes have to be sterilized?

Correct me if I'm wrong but a probe to Mars will take months, during which time it's exposed to a vacuum and irradiated by the sun. It sounds to me like this would kill any micro-organisms on the ...
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How can Trident be so inexpensive? Will it orbit Triton or just do a (slow) flyby?

The recent NY Times article Neptune’s Moon Triton Is Destination of Proposed NASA Mission says (in part): HOUSTON — Is it time to go back to Neptune? Scientists representing NASA’s Jet ...
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How precise must be the antenna orientation to communicate with a deep space probe?

I guess that everyone is familiar with the problem of aligning a TV satellite dish: some degrees off and the signal you desire is gone. How sensitive is communication with deep space probes to this ...
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Are nuclear-powered engines the way to go for space exploration?

I often think about the future of humanity and how to achieve it. Despite criticism, the USA and USSR achieved significant scientific breakthroughs, such as: putting the first man in space landing ...
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How an americium-241 RTG would differ from one using plutonium-238?

@TomSpliker's great answer mentions that ESA might be looking at producing Radioisotope (powered) Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) based on the radioisotope americium-241. 241Am is a "kinder and ...
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In deep space missions, how much of the journey is pre-programmed and how much is “direct” control?

Regarding deep space missions, like the Rosetta mission, how much of the journey to the final destination is pre-programmed vs. recalculated on the fly? For the Rosetta example, was the whole sequence ...
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Does Voyager 1 do anything to be more observable?

Currently, Voyager 1 is floating through the emptiness of space. Does it do anything to indicate its presence, like a light source onboard or broadcasting a signal that makes it more observable to ...
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VLB interferometry in deep space - does it make sense for communication?

This is something I was thinking about right now when this beta was opened ... perfect! In radio astronomy, there is an technique which is called very long baseline interferometry. The idea is to ...
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Why not use deep space hibernation in all missions?

If Deep Space Hibernation of a probe saves energy and power, then why isn't it implemented on long planetary missions and Interstellar missions like, New Horizons, Voyagers, Pioneers, Cassini, etc.......
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What probe received the most gravitational assists?

Often when launching deep-space probes, scientists will "loop" them around planets, "stealing" some of the planet's momentum and transferring it to the probe - giving the probe a huge speed boost. I'...
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Has an SRB been considered for use in orbit to launch to escape velocity?

Has an SRB been considered for use in orbit to launch to escape velocity to deep space? Consider SRB disposable and deep space vehicle continues on liquid propulsion. SRB conserves liquid propellants ...
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When was the last time that Starman/Roadster was seen?

Starman/Roadster (2018-017A, 43205) is a Falcon 9 2nd stage with a red sports car attached, in a heliocentric orbit in deep space. It was tracked by telescopes for several weeks at least after launch ...
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How is Voyager 1 still operating?

I watched a documentary on Voyager 1 and 2 last night and wondered "how is the digital equipment on them still operating"? I work in IT, and decided to look up what the longest running servers were - ...
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What software can be used to determine deep-space trajectories?

In What are the choices today for orbital mechanics simulation software?, an entire range of software was listed for many platforms. I'd like to narrow this down a bit. Specifically, two questions: ...
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Cubesats in lunar orbit and beyond - how does communication work?

Somewhere I read that there are serious plans to send a cubesat into lunar orbit. A few years ago, the ISS was also offering a launch opportunity for such a mission. I guess that it was actually ...
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Why can't Falcon Heavy accelerate deep space payloads as fast as Atlas V and Delta Heavy?

A Falcon Heavy with an expendable core costs $95M and lifts 2.5x as much to GTO as the Atlas V. It's Pluto injection orbit payload is nearly half of the Atlas V's GTO payload. In the answer to this ...
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Was there ever a non-sterilized probe sent to a celestial body?

A shootoff from my other question, has there ever been a deep space probe that was not sterilized to prevent micro-organism contamination of the celestial body? I'm thinking early space age history, ...
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Flying fuel tanks! Which deep-space spacecraft had the largest fuel mass fraction?

The Los Angeles Times' Deborah Netburn just wrote a really nice retrospective; ‘OK. Let’s do it!’ An oral history of how NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn came to be with plenty of photos and quotes ...
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Mass of food per astronaut per year for an extended deep space excursion?

Until food can be grown or synthesized reliably and effectively in space, a manned deep space mission needs to bring all of the food with it, or cache some of it ahead of time. Roughly what would be ...
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Why doesn't thermal radio emission from a DSN “hot dish” completely swamp the benefits of a cold LNA?

The 70 meter DSN dishes are often used to receive the weakest signals, and so their receiver LNAs have cryogenic front-ends in an assembly that also contains a LHe refrigerator and vacuum system. If I ...
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Interstellar eavesdropping

For about a century, humanity has broadcasted noise to space in the form of TV broadcasts, radio, etc... The nearest star is 4.242 light-years away, so for about 90 years, aliens -- if they exist in ...
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Why is the Deep Space Industries Prospector 1 using water propellant instead of hydrazine?

A lot of satellites use hydrazine propellant but the Prospector 1 is using water. What are the benefits and drawbacks of that decision?
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Delta-v of deep space maneuvers in deep space missions like Voyager or Pioneer

What are typical delta-v for deep space maneuvers, used by deep space missions to outer planets or for "interstellar missions" ? For example, Voyager 1 now has 17 km/s speed relative to the Sun. What ...
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Are there enough stray gasses in space to justify streamlining a probe?

Space isn't empty - there are tons of things floating around in it. Seem of these things are pockets/molecule of gas - and a space probe is very likely to encounter some of these at some point in its ...
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Interplanetary ranging accuracy?

What are the two or three most accurate technologies used to determine interplanetary spacecraft distance (e.g. Doppler / radiometric tracking...), and what accuracy is currently obtained from such ...
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How to calculate data rate of Voyager 1?

I've read the following passage in the answer to the Quora question How can Voyager send a signal strong enough for us to receive, in spite of its enormous distance from us? And how can it have the ...
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1answer
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Why Orion can't be used to service JWST?

Hubble Space Telescope is a marvel of astronomical tools - particularly judging by how much it moved the science. It took a lot of fixes along the way, which certainly prolonged its useful life. Its ...
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What's the record for the longest time a deep space craft has functioned without a reboot?

The question How is Voyager 1 still operating? and the interesting comparison to the record times that Earthbound servers have run without reboot got me thinking about deep space spacecraft. I'm ...
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Travel Speed in Space

I have read several questions and answers here concerning achieving speeds beyond the typical deep-space exploration missions. While speed increases near the Sun for example, that can't be applied to ...
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Autonomous Navigation for deep space missions

Autonomous navigation started in early phases of deep space exploration as a provision to achieve accuracy for planet/natural satellite targeting and approach, where radio tracking accuracies were low,...
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Could a Falcon Heavy assembly or something similar be useful for deep space missions? [duplicate]

Please forgive me, I'm a stargazer not an astronomer, nor a rocket scientist. If one could get a complete, fully fueled Falcon Heavy assembly into space, say for example by sandwiching one between ...
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of sending a telescope into deep space? [closed]

When I first heard of the Voyager missions I thought this: why not do the same, only make it a telescope? I thought it would surely see a lot of things we can't see from Earth or the inner Solar ...
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If there are Earth size bodies drifting in space could we identify them?

I don't think there is any reasonable doubt that comets have been ejected from ours and other solar systems and are drifting in the vast voids of space. If there where larger bodies say the size of ...
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What is the point of launching EM-1 on DIVH/F9H?

EM-1 was originally a full-up test of the SLS block 1B: Orion, ICPS (a modified 5-meter Delta cryogenic second stage), and the first stage/SRBs. NASA administrator Bridenstine’s statement on 3/13/...
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Navigation within solar system

I know star trackers are used in most cases for attitude determination of space craft traveling within the solar system. But what methods are currently used for coordinate determination, i.e. the ...
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1answer
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What would an X-ray communications (XCOM) transmitter look like?

The NASA news article NASA’s NavCube Could Support an X-ray Communications Demonstration in Space — A NASA First mentions the potential use of X-ray wavelengths for improved range of deep space ...
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Why are there no video transmissions from the Moon and Mars?

There is one new project, like Google Maps, which would be an online video transmission of the Earth's surface from a satellite: http://www.urthecast.com/ Another good one is a web cam situated on ...
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How bright is starlight in deep space?

Say I'm way out in deep space and on EVA. If I turn off all sources of illumination, can I basically still see, or am I severely impaired by darkness? Of course I can still see the stars, but will ...
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What type of data did New Horizons send to Earth in order to diagnose the switch to Safe Mode issue?

Recently, the New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto suffered a "hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence." Does that mean that it was a multi-threading error or something ...
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Are these really deep space amateur radio satellites?

In this answer there is a link to an amateur radio website listing what looks like satellites of interest to that community. The list is long (over 400 lines) and has a designator character in the ...
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Is secure communication in space important?

How important is secure communication in space? Science-related research is often made public, but does that mean all communications must be unprotected?
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Error detection and correction techniques on New Horizons data

As New Horizon's signal is so weak, probability exists of errors in detected signal. What error detection and correction codes are used in the signal? Is it known, what is the error rate in received ...
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1answer
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What is the Trump-era path to deep space?

Starting with George W. Bush, the presidents of the United States have presented an ambitious plan to the public to attain human travel of deep space. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration, announced in ...
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What approximate bitrate is required for interplanetary spacecraft GNC?

What is a rough estimate for the bitrate needed for GNC (guidance, navigation, and control) of an interplanetary spacecraft from Earth? I know it varies a great deal from case to case, but I want an ...
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Do ring laser gyros age with laser and dithering disabled?

Laser fading seems to be a known issue with ring laser gyros. With their STEREO-B probe, NASA experienced a different, "unexpected" failure mode, giving false readings. The Honeywell MIMU's were well ...
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Probes on a Solar System Escape Trajectory

Not one probe that has or will leave the Solar System (Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, and New Horizons) has a Solar Power System. This leads to the question, is there a reason behind ...
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Has any probe ever been launched into a highly elliptical orbit with say 20-30 year to orbit the sun?

Why has no one launched a probe that goes into a highly elliptical orbit around the sun ( on a path that goes beyond Pluto without escaping the sun's gravitational field) and capture images as it ...
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Could a molecular cloud be breathable?

Molecular clouds in deep space are fascinating objects. Various organic molecules have been found there (including alcohol, heh heh). So if one of these clouds contained about 20% of oxygen, would it ...