THE VOYAGE OF GLIESE 1 – Part I – Exploring GL581g


Voyager Spacecraft are Role Models for Gliese 1

This is a follow-on blog article that discusses the possibility of an exploratory visit to the newly discovered, Earth-like exoplanet GL581g. You may click here to view the earlier blog article on GL581 (the red dwarf) and its six (or more) exoplanets.

Based on our preliminary calculations, it will take approximately 30.2 years to travel to the GL581 area, and this is at about two-thirds the speed of light.

Human spaceflight for this first voyage is not desirable. The decision has been made to make the flight of Gliese 1 a fully robotic mission. Although this will be the most far-reaching spaceflight mission yet attempted, the great design and development progress in robotic spacecraft by many of our spacefaring nations inspires confidence.  This is especially true when we consider the Voyager spacecrafts (#1 and #2) which at this point have gone farther than any other robotic spacecraft to date.

There are a great many important issues to be considered before we even begin this program. Let’s look at some of the ones at the top of the list.

Space telescope research before spacecraft? The ideal first step would be to further verify GL581g by looking for it by using a new telescope system called the Terrestrial Planet Finder.

Yes, I have read about that, but I understand that the TPF program was cancelled or put on hold. That is correct and now the idea is to add the TPF features to the Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Planetary scientist Sara Seager discusses this in her book, Is There Life Out There?

So, we wait until the Webb Telescope is launched and in use, and will it have the occulter unit included in the final assembly? We think so, but at this writing we are not certain. We are contacting Dr. Seager to get an update in that regard. As for waiting on the JWST, that is not a long wait. It is scheduled for launch in 2014.

A Parallel Program to include JWST investigation during the design, build and test of Gliese 1. The Gliese 1 spacecraft will be designed to travel to relatively nearby exo-planetary systems. If for some reason, GL581g is found not to be an Earth-like planet with the promise of a life supporting environment, then the Gliese spacecraft is simply re-assigned (before its launch) to a different exo-planetary system. Building this system while also using the JWST to probe GL581g and other exoplanet candidates is efficient use and development of space-related, scientific technology.

Well that sounds like a great idea, but good grief we are talking about very, very large budgets. Who is going to spring for that? You are right, and to do this we are talking about an immense change in governmental commitments to space research and exploration. In this regard, as we have mentioned before, no one government or private research organization will be able to fund this. It must be a fully joint effort by all the spacefaring nations on Earth.

Gliese 1 exploratory spacecraft is expected to achieve a reconnaissance orbit around GL581g. The sensitive equipment on the spacecraft is expected to confirm that the exoplanet can and may actually support life. This is a more detailed and critical assessment than what has been accomplished byboth land-based and space-born telescopes like the JWST.

OK, then why are we not sending a lander onto GL581g to make contact? That is not an option with regard to the design of the Gliese1 spacecraft. A lander is not an included option. Additionally, until we get more detailed biochemical as well as geological assessments from the orbiting spacecraft it is too early to consider a lander probe. Most importantly, in honor of our long-held principles, “we come in peace, with intent to do no harm.”

Deep Space communications with Gliese 1 could be a challenge; however, our success with the Voyager craft is encouraging. In any case it is expected that the Deep Space Network will be expanded and upgraded to ensure that we can sustain regular data and command exchanges with the spacecraft. This is certainly going to produce dramatic breakthroughs in deep space communications.

Hmmmm, we have had some problems with communications with the Mars rovers. Doesn’t it follow that in the deep space where Gliese 1 will be that these problems will be even greater? Yes, that is a good question, and the planning for this spacecraft calls for greater AI(artificial intelligence) programs and devices that allow Gliese 1 to diagnose and correct many of its problems on its own. This will be more than the automatic shut down modes we have experienced with many other rovers and spacecraft.

Like the Voyagers, Gliese 1 is a one way space exploration program. As a result this spacecraft will carry with it, extensive assessment technology that will give us as detailed information (visual and data) of GL581g. The spacecraft also, powered by radioisotope technology, is expected to continue full operation for a decade following its successful encounter and orbiting of GL581g. Again, the incredible success we are having with the Voyager craft demonstrates that we can succeed in this respect.

Whoowee, that is exciting!  What if there is human life on GL581g and they take offense at our prying and destroy Gliese1? Well, that could certainly be a possibility, but there could be no real proof that the spacecraft was destroyed by humans rather than either a malfunction on cosmic accident. This is a major risk in this type of exploration just like so many throughout the history of humankind, but look at all we have learned and mastered by taking such risks.

The actual discovery of life, in any form, on GL581g will dramatically change the lives of all of us on this planet. We expect this and in our design of the spacecraft in addition to our many assessment systems and protocols we have set up a network report protocol that will send back to Earth, for public broadcast, images and data that let all of us share in this remarkable exploration. Maybe we will even receive an image of ET waving to us.

Thinking about that feedback is both exciting and sort of spooky. I am not sure how I will really react to that revelation. I think I will be jumping with joy, but maybe not. We understand that. Reactions to proof of life elsewhere in the galaxy and the universe will have a shock effect on all of us. The joy is knowing we are no longer alone. The worry will be manifold as we are deluged with sci-fi histrionics and a new application of the superstitious warnings of those who have trouble accepting these facts. None of this will eradicate the fact that there is life out there.  Me, I hear great music and have beautiful visions of a whole new future for all of us.

Well, we have just considered a few of the important issues involved in this project.  We need to consider more. We will do this in one more blog article to follow this one. We hope you will join us and follow along.  Please we urge your comments, questions, and scientific corrections and additions. Until next week – Look up and ask: Quo Vadis?

CREDITS:

Image of Voyager Spacecraft – courtesy of NASA.



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Explore posts in the same categories: GL 581g, Humankind and Exploration, Lifeness, Precious Planet, Scientific Research, Sustainable Energy

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4 Comments on “THE VOYAGE OF GLIESE 1 – Part I – Exploring GL581g”


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waddell Robey, Evie Marom. Evie Marom said: RT @XiNeutrino: THE VOYAGE OF GLIESE 1 – Exploring GL581g: http://wp.me/po5Ku-ep […]


  2. how are you!This was a really splendid blog!
    I come from roma, I was luck to approach your subject in yahoo
    Also I get a lot in your blog really thanks very much i will come later

  3. XiNeutrino Says:

    I was very remiss in excluding the Pioneer spacecraft in my discussion about spacecraft distances traveled. You may update yourselves here on the Pioneer craft: http://bit.ly/ahOTaM. My apologies.


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