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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45
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10answers
7k views

Have spacecraft photographed each other beyond Earth orbit?

There are several answers to Could a spy satellite image another satellite? and one answer with several examples to How many spacecraft have taken a “Pale Blue Dot” type photo of the Earth from beyond ...
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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 would it take to get a message to another star?

Let's assume that we've somehow detected the existence of an extraterrestrial civilization through "passive" means, such as detecting a suspicious exoplanetary atmospheric signature. We're now hoping ...
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3answers
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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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4answers
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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 Propulsion ...
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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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2answers
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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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1answer
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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 ...
19
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3answers
556 views

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 ...
18
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1answer
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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 ...
18
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1answer
578 views

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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1answer
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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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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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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 - ...
16
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1answer
402 views

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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4answers
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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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2answers
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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: ...
14
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3answers
891 views

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 ...
14
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3answers
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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 ...
13
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1answer
813 views

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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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 ...
12
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1answer
589 views

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, ...
12
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2answers
795 views

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 ...
11
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5answers
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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 ...
11
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2answers
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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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With current state of technology if we wanted how long would it take for newly launched probe to overtake Voyagers?

Not literally in a sense that it must go in same direction as they went, but in distance to Earth. I understand that this question may be a bit vague (is the budget 500M or 5B?) so feel free to ...
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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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1answer
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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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2answers
384 views

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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1answer
861 views

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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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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2answers
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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 ...
9
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1answer
545 views

Are Zond 2 and Venera 4 basically the same spacecraft design? What were the differences?

The question Which deep space spacecraft had main dish antennas that were perforated or made from mesh? shows some images of Venera 4, and there's one below. This answer to When did ion propulsion ...
9
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1answer
381 views

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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2answers
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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 ...
8
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1answer
553 views

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,...
8
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1answer
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Was Hayabusa-2's plastic explosive charge the largest charge detonated beyond LEO?

The BBC News article Hayabusa-2: Japanese probe set to 'bomb' an asteroid says: The charge is carried on the Small Carry-On Impactor (SCI) device. This is a 14kg conical container attached to ...
8
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1answer
268 views

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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4answers
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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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3answers
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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 ...
7
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3answers
267 views

What if the Voyagers had remained within the plane of the ecliptic?

On their last big-planet flybys, both Voyager 1 and 2 were given substantial kicks out of the plane of the ecliptic. If this wasn't so, and their flyby's were adjusted to stay within the plane of the ...
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2answers
427 views

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?
7
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1answer
345 views

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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2answers
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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/...
6
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1answer
494 views

How many spacecraft have taken a “Pale Blue Dot” type photo of the Earth from beyond cis-lunar space?

How many spacecraft have taken a "Pale Blue Dot" type photo of the Earth from deep space? A "Pale Blue Dot" type photo would be a photo of the earth from far away; for the purposes of this question ...
6
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2answers
459 views

What will the 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 ...
6
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1answer
355 views

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 ...
5
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3answers
690 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
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Has magnetic core memory been used beyond the Moon?

@aml's comment under @OrganicMarble's answer to the question Did the IBM System/4 Pi computer have radiation-hardened versions for Skylab and Shuttle? says: @uhoh- according to wikipedia, the AP-101B ...