Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

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Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Somes J » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:13 am

I thought it deserved a thread of its own, and I have an idea for you:

We should totally work in a super-sized version of Titan somewhere; a volatile-rich terrestrial planet with a dense, hazy, cold atmosphere and lakes if not seas or a global ocean of liquid methane on its surface.

I think the super-Earth outer planet of the Amillian sun would work well for this. It seems to be in a roughly Saturn-like orbit and would logically be quite rich in volatiles.

So the system would have a super-Titan possibly as much as 7 times the mass of Earth, orbited by at least several small moons. Awesome.

One wrinkle is I remember reading somewhere that a superterrestrial greater than 4 Earth masses or so might be able to hold onto helium. 7 Earth masses is close to the threshold where it should have been able to hold onto hydrogen, and helium is heavier, so a helium-rich atmosphere would probably make sense. Since helium is a noble gas it probably wouldn't effect atmosphere chemistry that much, although I'm not really up to trying to work out what all the potential environmental effects would be.

One issue though: might a super-Titan have a thicker atmosphere, meaning more greenhouse effect? Blargh, not sure what the effects of that would be. If it's a problem we could always make the planet smaller.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Somes J » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:24 am

Just recapping what we have so far:

AMILLIAN SUN - solar mass G class star -- Planets:

.4 AU - innermost planet, .2-.3 Earth masses, tidelocked iron-rich super-Mercury with active volcanism and a thin carbon dioxide rich atmosphere.

1 AU - Amillia, formerly similar to Archaean Era Earth, now terraformed to an Earthlike planet. 1 large moon.

1.5-3.5 AU - inner asteroid belt.

3.9 AU - Jovian planet, 1.05 Jupiter masses, unknown number of moons.

10 AU - Super-Earth, 7 Earth masses, unknown number of moons. Super-Titan?

9-15 AU - Outer ice-rich asteroid belt.


RED DWARF - 45-180 AU (eccentric orbit) - .3 solar masses (2% solar luminousity). -- Planets:

.07 AU - tidelocked superterrestrial. Spiralled-in failed gas giant core. Extremely volatile-rich, possibly up to 30-50% volatiles by mass. Hot water cloud planet.

.14 AU - 34 Earth mass hot Neptune.

.4 AU - volatile-rich terrestrial planet, .6 Earth masses

.6 AU - volatile-rich terrestrial planet, .1 Earth masses

1.7 AU - Saturnian planet, .25 Jupiter masses, unknown number of moons.

4-7 AU - icy asteroid belt.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:18 am

I'm in a bit of a rush tonight - it past bed time, so just some brief thoughts.
Somes J wrote:We should totally work in a super-sized version of Titan somewhere; a volatile-rich terrestrial planet with a dense, hazy, cold atmosphere and lakes if not seas or a global ocean of liquid methane on its surface.
Yes! This kind of thing is partially why I was excited about the idea of a carbon planet (well, that and the idea of volcanic diamonds :P) - seas of methane are just cool.
One issue though: might a super-Titan have a thicker atmosphere, meaning more greenhouse effect? Blargh, not sure what the effects of that would be. If it's a problem we could always make the planet smaller.
If much of it is helium, maybe not. I don't know the opacity of it, but remember the greenhouse effect is caused by the atmosphere being transparent to light wavelengths from the sun, but opaque to the radiation wavelengths of the planet. So not just any gas can do it.

Perhaps the relative increase in helium would have no effect on the temperature.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:29 am

Tangent, but I want to scribble it down before bed so I don't forget:

is there a justification for sending manned missions to orbit of these planets to check them out? The manned missions in the last revision were due primarily to FTL: intra system probes were robotic, controlled by ground crews, but going to other solar systems brought a crew along to decide what studies to do, since the control lag was too big (infinite - by the time a control message got to the probe, it would have already jumped home. ftl comms suck. so the whole mission had to be preprogrammed.)

Without that, going with robotic probes looks really attractive. I do want a few manned missions, but maybe they should all stay at the inner system. Let the robots do the outer systems just because they'll do an equally good job, if not better, dollar for dollar.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:36 am

So we've spent some time over the summer working out the physical aspects, and that's not quite done yet, but I want to move on to the political layout again.

I'm probably going to talk about stuff that I've talked about before. Forgive me, I do that.


Anyway, there's three sections already:

1) The planet

2) The colony cluster

3) The failed cluster

(And a 4th that comes later in the setting - the independent colony. Used to be around Jupiter, new position undetermined. It only comes near the end though in the old revisions.)


The thing with this setup is there's only one place for international craziness to go down - #2. The planet has only one country on it, and the failed cluster has, obviously, failed. (It'll have its share of crazy shit but no space powers.)


The colony cluster is a group of rings of habitats. Travel between them is easy. Perhaps too easy. This is great because we have all kinds of things going down, lots of smuggling, immigration, space fighters, all kinds of shit.

What it lacks is longer distance power projection; the kind of stuff most people think of with sci fi. I purposefully avoid some of that, but I want to play with it a little too. The travel between planet and cluster doesn't justify all the older warship designs I have from before the revisions. I want to keep them. I really want to bring back some of my planetary fun too...



There's three things I think can do it:

a) Take that parenthetical colony and move it up in the timeline. It can be started somewhat early, and the other events will consist of adding on to it a little physically but mostly people changing their minds.

b) Doing more mixing up. I already have some little countries basically right in the middle of other countries and some split country action, but I want to expand on the split action.

Way way back when it was still planet-y Star Trek stuff, one of the things I refused to stick with was one planet = one country (generally; I had the four main homeworlds as exclusives, but the colony worlds were all mix and match). I hate the one to one because it makes planets seem really small, makes the reason for fighting more questionable, and changes the fight entirely.

If it is planet vs planet, everything can be done by starships. There's no submarines and no airplanes! I love me some navy ships. They have good reason to be around with multiple countries on one planet.

c) Related to b, maybe allow a permanent colony on the planet here.



So it is minor changes to the current ideas, but the timeline is changed a bit and the stuff is mixed. While I'm a little tempted to add some free orbiting colonies - not part of the main clusters - those are too isolated to be too much fun, and hard to justify too. Why would someone go so far away from the rest of civilization? Yet bother us enough and thrive enough to be a great power to be dealt with? So even if they exist, they probably won't play too much into the politics.


What's left is where are all these?


why the fuck doesn't this desktop have paint anymore? ugh.

I want them in solar orbits where possible, for optimal stability of the cluster. However, being in a high orbit around a planet might work too. Some minor stationkeeping will probably be necessary anyway to keep the perfect formation for easy travel. Even slightly less minor stationkeeping is still bound to be cheaper than having to pay for every little bit of transportation!


So the question we have to answer is: where's the closest resources to the action we want?


I'm thinking about putting the main cluster in high orbit over the interior planet. (Mercury like thing, though the design we have here calls for something about 4x more massive than our Mercury!) That might be a pain in the ass to mine though, and might also have too much sun.


The pros of this are:

a) Lots of sun.

b) Lots of metals and such from the planet.

c) Possibly Oberth maneuvers using the planet.

d) Pretty good travel times and launch windows back to the other locations (~3 months each) without awful delta-v (~12 km/s) on Hohmann transfers. That delta-v isn't great though.

e) There's a bit of a view!

And the cons:

a) Maybe too much sun - heat management could be a problem.

b) Getting those materials off the planet will be hard. A simple mass driver may not work, elevators probably won't, direct mining is really no go. Launching from it is just a pain. But, since it doesn't have atmosphere, these aren't necessarily fatal.

c) The planet's orbit will make stationkeeping for the cluster a bit harder. I haven't mathed this, but I don't think it is a big deal.

d) It's pretty far away from easy sources of volatiles, probably not much water around.



Not a bad location at all, but not super great either.



Next up:

Free solar orbit inferior to the Earth like planet

This is what I was thinking for a while, but it's not great. There's pretty much nothing there; they'd have to import all the materials for construction. Why bother? Unless there's a few large asteroids out there to work with, of course. I could always just add some. I figure one with a diameter of a few km would be enough for 100 M people worth of habs - a good start, but still not great. If combined with the inner planet though it might still work.

High orbit over the Earth planet

This is the classic High Frontier thing. If the people were starting on Earth, this is almost a no-brainer. The specifics might be debateable, but somewhere like this is probably the way to go.

However, here, the people are coming in from outside. They are starting with no existing infrastructure, so that huge huge huge pro in the real world doesn't apply for most the situations.

Still, it offers a number of advantages that still might be compelling:

a) The moon

b) The Earth

c) Near earth asteroids

d) Good solar power

e) Trivial travel time to the earth planet

f) Not bad time in or out to other things in the system


And some cons:

a) It's too close to the earth planet! It doesn't leave breathing room for the setting's background.

b) There's some gravitational problems that add to the stationkeeping difficulty. I don't expect this to be significant though.



It's a really solid choice, but I don't want it for story background reasons. So I need to find alternatives that are objectively superior, or at least close to as good, so the handwave isn't too blatant.


Next out is the inner asteroid belt. And after that, the Jovian might be a good choice, and finally, there's orbiting the companion star. Let's work them backward. Gah and there's still trojan points or free orbits in the random outer system. But free orbits in the outer system have the same material problem as the inner system, but with less sun, but the trojans might be workable. I'll come back to it. God the solar system is too big for this.

The companion star

The pros are somewhat short - there's just a lot of materials out there. But, alas, that's about it. The second star is so dim, and it is so far away from the main star, that solar power isn't really great. It's doable, but it's obscene to do. That really takes it out of the running.

It's also many years away from the earth planet, so it doesn't work story wise too. (Not for this anyway... it's got plenty of potential for pure science expeditions though!)


Inward:

The Jovian

This is like the companion star - lots of easy access to materials, but a long travel time. However, it has much more solar power available. Still not enough to power big spacecraft, but it is workable for the habitats without being excessively obscene.

In the older revisions, the colonies out there wanted to get away from everyone else, so the long travel time was desirable. (But too long would break a small plot point so I added a stationary laser launch point... basically self-nullifying bullshit, ugh) They used nuclear ships to get a home field advantage (the others had a lot of solar ships, huge disadvantage that far out) and had plenty of material to live off.

It made a lot of sense and was huge fun. Great visuals too. The only downside story wise is the travel time, but that kinda works too. So this is an open possibility here too.


The inner belt

Naturally a pretty solid choice.







I ran out of time. I'll have to come back to this later. But what I'm leaning toward is the inner planet, tweaked a little, for one cluster and the other in the belt. Not sure yet tho.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Somes J » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:11 am

Actually as I remember the original concept for the inner planet did have an atmosphere - it was sort of like a tidally locked Mars (but hot on the day side) with a Mercury-like interior composition. If you want to put the colony there it might work better to make it truly Mercury-like - smaller, and without atmosphere, as that would be an easier world to exploit. Although I have to admit I rather liked the original idea, because it's genuinely unlike anything that exists in our solar system.

Personally I'm rather partial to the inner belt. It's a logical place to set up, and it's close enough to Amillia that travel times isn't too bad - it's about as far from it as Mars is from Earth.

If you want different clusters of colonies, the inner belt works quite well, since it's both resource-rich and spatially huge. You could have different colony clusters setting up shop around different large resource-rich asteroids. This is the solution I'm personally partial to.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:15 am

Yes, that's a pretty good idea. I do want to keep the planets different too so that's an automatic point against just copy/pasting Mercury.

I've gotta work out delta-v and travel time to a few locations inside the belt. But I have to remember - the belt zone is fucking huge all on its own! Hmmm, yes.

I was supposed to go to bed half an hour ago though.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:18 pm

I think I want to put the failed colony cluster at the sun-amillia L4 point.

Suppose they were originally in a high Earth orbit. Over the thousands of years things go wrong. Outgassing, malfunctions in stationkeeping, etc etc lead to them escaping.

They don't have particularly different speed so they stay in basically the same orbit but not quite, and the planet leaves them. Over the next several years, they collect into the next gravity well - the L4 point, with the other debris there.

The computers (or crews?) kept working though, and were able to use torque with the twin to maintain alignment with the sun even as they entered the new orbit. The computers might eventually fail, but by then, inertia is able to do the job; the new lagrangian orbit is stable.

Some of them might have even stayed in cluster alignment, though this isn't a requirement for the scenario.



The beauty is they'd stay close in regular life to the planet, where their fun stuff goes down, but they aren't still there by the modern era, so the revelation can come nice and late. Everything I love with mild handwaves - certainly the biggest one is still how technological civilization fell inside in the first place!


Astronomers have known something was there for a long time, but they thought they were just looking at Trojan asteroids. Then they got a reason to take a closer look (maybe someone spotted a computer fired station keeping burn - a bit unlikely that it still has fuel after all this time but maybe, or one of the mirrors happened to reflect sunlight their way - virtually guaranteed if anyone from a lower orbit looked that way, or someone did a survey to mine those 'roids or a pure science probe happened upon it... all kinds of things could do it, but at the same time, none of these have to take place if everyone is in equal or higher orbits. They'd look a lot like plain boring rocks from that distance and angle) and then the probes and ships were sent to reveal the secrets of their ancestry.



That equal or higher orbits means we want to put everyone else out a ways in the beginning. So the inner belt is looking better and better.



Something else there is some minor space tech powers might still survive there after all this time, and we never see them and they never see us. Imagine the surprise with the starfleet scientists come upon a WW2 battleship. IN SPAAACE! There'd be a few legitimate trojan asteroids for them to mine so really low tech rockets would serve them, and they are too small scale to watch the sky in detail to see the modern man. Modern man doesn't see it just because it is far away (L4 is 1 AU from the planet on average), small scale, low power, somewhat rare space travel, hidden among rocks, and nobody is bothering to look anyway.

It might be spotted by an inner system probe on the way back just by sheer chance. What kind of asteroids have eyes shining back in the dark?



Anyway that failed cluster is so exciting to me. It'd be Stargate SG-1 type adventures, all so close to home. Think of the wonder. Go through failed habs finding all kinds of weird life and primitive like peoples. Then find an area inside with the AI still operating and all kinds of high technology archeology - in some ways, higher technology than the explorers themselves. (lol hyper advanced ancients is a little tired but it totally fits here. These people did leave real Earth thousands of years after the ones we follow, so you'd expect their ships to be higher tech than the others. And there might be similar things buried on the planet itself. Submarine fun ftw.)


And while they are exploring the perilous operational AI facility, surely with AI guard bots, the ship outside finds a cannonball coming right toward it.

mang, I just need enough habs built (waves hands) to give enough territory for all this!
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:11 pm

Now the main asteroid belt can be anywhere between 1 and 3.9 AU - that's were my notes say the Earth and the Jupiter are, respectively, with no other planet in between. (Real life Jupiter is at 5.2)

(The belt being a bit in - with no Mars - also means there will probably be more 'roids in those earth/sun trojan orbits. Such might also increase the odds of a catastrophic impact with the planet, but it probably isn't an issue in the mere ~10,000 years we need to survive here.)

The real asteroid belt has an inner line at about 2 AU and a center of mass at about 2.8. The 2 AU is related to Mars and resonance with Jupiter. That similar resonance occurs here at ~1.5 AU; about the orbit of Mars in real life. Indeed, this asteroid belt might be made out of materials that would otherwise have made a Mars, but were too perturbed by the closer Jovian.

The snow line was in the area of 3 AU when the belt formed in real life. Might as well copy that - out there is probably easy water, but the big planet will surely send them inward on a somewhat regular basis anyway.



But anywho putting a cluster in the ballpark of Mars' orbit, maybe a little closer with some luck in finding an asteroid there, looks totally doable and justified by the astrocartography.

Now, the solar flux out there is about 1/2 that of in Earth's orbit. One of the beauties of going in the more inner system was the ease with which you could do solar power. At Earth, we already have about 1 kW/kg. in limited models; competitve with speculative nuclear power! While the limiting factor going inward is probably heat management rather than available power itself, it still stands to reason that it can do a little better as we move in.

As we move out, it will probably go down. But NASA studies have found solar power on the surface of Mars to be competitive with nuclear there still... space is probably better. I'm thinking cheap concentrators could overcome this - more surface area, but not greatly more mass for the same power. Cool.


I might just have them move inward a little bit. Say they compromised with nature and the planet to get fairly easy access to both. Too close means few launch windows, but hohmann orbits aren't necessary for close transfers anyway if you have a little fuel to burn so that's not a dealbreaker.


1.3 AU hohmann calculator results:
from http://www.vrzone.org/space/orbital_transfer.php wrote: Departure delta-v: 1.86 + 0.00 = 1.86 km/s*
Departure gravity losses: 0.00 km/s
Departure acceleration: 0.11 Gs
Time of flight: 228.52 days
Arrival delta-v: 1.74 + 0.00 = 1.74 km/s**
Arrival gravity losses: 0.00 km/s
Arrival acceleration: 0.10 Gs
Total transfer delta-v: 1.86 + 1.74 = 3.60 km/s
Departure orbit period: 370.95 days
Arrival orbit period: 548.94 days

4 km/s isn't bad delta-v. The travel time isn't great though, about 8 months. Launch windows are probably about once a year too, though the calc didn't list that.

This just happens with outer orbits. Everything goes more slowly, even if you stay close. The inner planets move hella fast by comparison.


Looks like we can cut it down to 3 months travel - what I've mostly been playing with - by using about 15 km/s delta v.


A respectable, but technologically conservative nuclear thermal drive could have an exhaust velocity of around 10 km/s with excellent thrust. Which isn't necessary really but whatever. A really plain solar rocket could get with about 20% of that too, in the inner part of the trip at least. But to get delta v aroun the exhaust velocity requires a mass ratio of about e and to get this high means almost 5. Really not bad. Chemical rockets might be able to pull it off too but we're talking like 2 external tanks blargh.


If the transfer ships are electric though.... atomic rocket says VASMIR or ion drives could give such Isp that a mass ratio of just 1.15 could do this easily enough. Wow. That's with a relatively high speed transfer!

The downside with electric is they take an *obscene* amount of power.
(1 / 2) * (100 tonnes) * 0.001 * (9.8 (m / (s^2))) * (150 (km / s)) = 74 megawatts

...for a milligee on my tiny ass ship. Generally, it looks like 740 W / kg to power this beastly engine! So, instead of flying fuel tanks, we need a flying power plant.

Maybe that's ok though. If we have 1 kW/kg power systems, our average power is

1 kW / kg * n kg of power plant / m kg of total

n/m = .74

Looks like for every kg of ship or fuel, we need about 3 kg of power plant. With the mass ratio, for every 1 kg of ship, in total, we need about 0.15 kg of propellant. So let's consider propellant and power plant overhead together.

0.85 kg of fun stuff for every 3.15 kg of propulsion. Happily, 3 kg of it can be reused for other things, though megawatts is excessive overkill for most ships. Warships might be able to use it though.


(You know, the Atomic Rockets engine list makes it all to easy to avoid looking at this mass of power plant issue. It gives a lot of the info needed for it, but doesn't go into this particular issue...)


Anyway, let's say we have 20 tons of fun stuff in my ship. It'll be a nice big roomy ship and that includes the ship's structure.

3.15 propulsion / 0.85 fun * 20 tons fun = ~74 tons of propulsion.


Our little ship here is about 100 tons total. 15 tons of it is expendable propellant. 60 tons of it is powerplant, providing 60 MW. If solar, it is probably about 1 m^2 per kW, so 60,000 m^2. A square of sides about 250 meters.

If my ship has 1/10 the density of water (10x that of air on average), 20 tons of it would be a cube of about 6 meters on each side. Two floors, each 6x6. 700 square feet of roomy room, not too bad! (Especially since 1 milligee is virtually freefall; might as well use all three dimensions for the design too, so more storage space than it might sound.)


But anyway the hilarity here is a 6 meter cube... with wings extending out 125 meters around it. That's 20x bigger!

Image

The yellow is solar panel, the black is the main ship...




Anywho back to the main layout itself, naturally, the launch windows are still somewhat rare, but that's OK. That's just something we have to accept without either incredibly delta-v or Mercury like orbits.

(Earlier timelines assumed one launch window per 3 years anyway!)





I think then putting a second large cluster a little further out, or just in a different phase, gives reason for interplanetary warships. All right there in the inner belt zone. If one is at about 1.3 AU and the other out at 1.5 AU we have a huge ass separation in real terms, but almost nothing in solar system terms! Solar power is still available there.

I still want something in the inner system, but the third breakaway cluster could go there, thus putting the planet in a kind of middle area. Leads to fun. But the two (or more) Belt clusters works for me now. The sun is still usable there.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:19 pm

btw a dock for these interplanetary ships might be a Deep Space Nine kind of thing - a station with docking attachments 200 meters long to reach the center of the ship around the solar panels.

They could also be collapsable. Or pointed in the other direction so the ship could dock directly.... yes that's how it would be done. I need to stop thinking so 2 dimensionally.

The solar panels point toward the sun. The main ship needs to rotate independently of the solar panels, so it can burn either way. I wonder if exhaust passing by the back of the solar panels would hurt the array? (Remember the array wants to be light weight.)

Maybe the engine could be on a boom extending beyond it. Or my ship could be a rectangle instead of a cube. Or just off center.

The main ship might be off to the edge of the panel array. btw 3x6x12 seems more fun than 6x6x6.


But this is changing my old vision of this ship! I already had solar panels butnever actually did the math in this detail....
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:23 pm

Potential fuckme on size! I didn't account for inefficiencies adequately. But meh we're getting the idea here. A couple hundred meters of solar panel is livable whether 250 or 300.


I might just have to slash the exhaust velocity. Paying for more propellant is probably less than more solar panels at some point. Maybe a proper analysis of teh cost/benefit is a good idea. But I need to get to real work now!
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:26 pm

i just realized i coincidentally called 100 tons in the original calculation

then got right back to it in the later calcs! LOL
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:10 pm

last note then I'm seriously getting back to work.

I used to run with 100,000 ton ships. They'd throw around almost a terajoule in a charged laser blast and ran around with Orion variants.

I entertained 10,000 ton ships at the same time as the smaller workhorse contrasted to the big battleship. But later I realized a terajoule is fucking overkill so I started phasing the 100,000 ton beasts out. 10k ton became my default starting assumption.

Now I've been going down even more. 1-10 tons for personal space cars. 10-100 tons for space busses.

10-100 tons is also the smaller interplanetary ship like described here.

100-1000 tons is probably the starting warship. I think I could put a 1-10 MW laser on that with a fair chunk of delta-v.

1000 - 10000 tons is now likely to be the huger classes. Probably still 1-10 MW (more is kinda overkill) but maybe better range and endurance; more comfort for the crew for long trips as well as more supplies, propellant, likely more armor.


The only thing I can think of that *might* justify > 10000 tons is a long range explorer. Maybe the multi-staged beast that carried the crews on the outer solar system (brings on whole new meaning here, since there's literally a second solar system out there!) would be this big at launch.


I've fallen two orders of magnitude now just since the initial injection of hardness. (And 5 OOMs on per-shot laser energy! Not just scaling with mass, but I've also become more conservative with engines and efficiency assumptions.) Just kinda amazes me.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:37 pm

Hey other side of the reduced sunlight coin: reduced solar radiation too. Might mean thinner hulls on the space cars is acceptable. I didn't think of that before.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:31 am

I think I want to put the failed colony cluster at the sun-amillia L4 point.
I've been thinking about this for a while now. It's exciting because I can put so much weird bullshit in there and have the Star Trek and Stargate adventures I love so much all in my own setting.

But, I was just thinking: what's the best way to get to that L4 point? The direct approach is a real pain in the ass, because it's moving with you.

It's an equilateral triangle without much of a gravity gradient, so for simplicity, let's treat it as completely flat and exactly 1 AU. (Earth-Sun L4 and L5 are indeed farther away than any of the other inner planets!)

We can do simple division to see how much delta v a particular travel time will take. 6 months - 1 AU / 6 months = ~9.5 km/s average speed. Burn flip burn means double that... each way. We're talking 19 km/s one way!


I'm thinking it's probably much better to get there by taking the scenic route. If you were to sling shot around the sun, you might achieve time warp, or you might just get to that position a lot easier.


For a quick approximation, let's consider it as a round trip from Earth to Mercury and back. (Why would this work as an estimate? L4, relative to the sun, is the same deal as Earth, just in a different phase. Same altitude, just trailing behind. So if we launch 2 months off from when we hit Earth, we should hit L4, but the journey is otherwise the same.) We're now talking more like 13 km/s each way, and it isn't that much longer of a trip; like 8 months.

...but hmm, it's about 14 km/s for an 8 month flat trip too. This might be some fucking conservation law, you're starting and stopping at the same altitude, so you've gotta pay your toll.

They might be able to do a Oberth effect burn with the inner planet or the sun though.

I guess there's no shortcut. I'll actually have to do math. But it's too close to bedtime for that now.


Anywho, the distances involved are interesting too. Not only is resupply quite a way's off, radio communication with home will lag a good 8 minutes each way as well. The expedition is in contact, but not easy contact. They're practically on their own.

The good news though is since L4 and the planet are stationary relative to each other, they might have constant launch windows; no need to wait for the planets to get into alignment. Though, if they actually do a gravity assist with the inner planet, they might have to wait for it. But I'm not sure if that's necessary since they might be able to use the sun for that. Of course, getting close to the sun might fry the crews so maybe the planet is the best bet.

Nevertheless, launch windows are at least flexible here. But the travel time pretty much has to be long. It's just a big distance.



There might be real mass limits for this expedition too. Can they pack their guns and bombs just in case they happen across some false gods over there? Or will they have to improvise from shit found on site?

I'm thinking it will be a little of both. They'd surely bring some guns since it's quite possible that they'll run into trouble out there. Man made habs having men inhabiting them isn't a big stretch of the imagination. But the physics means they just couldn't afford to pack everything they could possibly need.



So they go to liberate some people from a false god... but can they really spare the bullets on that?



Speaking of false gods, among the stories that would just have to happen are some AI run civilizations. Think of all the crazy shit that could go on:


"People are of most intrinsic value when they are doing work. They do more work with less technology. So I'll keep the tech level low while still caring for them."


"My job is to manage a for profit enterprise. The other AI units have failed. It's up to me alone to maintain the population to turn the most profit for the long dead owners." (this one might not even be an AI... just like a management expert system that took control by accident, but I could imagine the situation being really fucked up. This system wasn't designed to adapt on its own, so some combination of it's functions and the humans' ingenuity lead to some crazy shit.)


Naturally, an AI run utopia, where most everything actually worked out right. Some little place with a bunch of snobs wearing robes and packing higher tech than anyone else seen yet, including the A'millian expedition itself. Totally not the Borg nor the Tollan... but a little similar to both.


A failed utopia - the computer calculated that the only way to make the best for the good was to sacrifice the few. The few didn't agree and thwarted implementation. Turns out the computer was right though.


And, a computer without many if any humans, without malice, without caring. It just humbly does it's duty for 10,000 years, maintaining things. It's thanks to it that the habs are in as good condition as they are after the disaster that regressed their civilizations. Actually it should have some humans. The chosen ones it uses to replace it's failing robot avatars. They work, never knowing the big picture why. But not very many of them.

The Chosen Ones have much exposition to tell, like the ship's pilots in Phantasy Star III.



Then, there's the w/o ai civilizations. Ranging from primitive screwheads to early 1900's tech... IN SPAAACE!

And, finally, the genetically engineered weirdos. We need some strange new life forms along with the civilizations and worlds!
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

"I still really hate those pompous assholes who quote themselves in their sigs." -- Me

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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Somes J » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:25 pm

^ Sounds pretty good.
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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:26 am

I might be repeating myself - ideas linger and repeat in my brain for months. But more colony failure ideas:


You have one that's a land of darkness. In the days of their forefathers, the sun would come every day, but as their society changed to be more progressive than their neighbors, something bad happened - the sun stopped rising on it's own, but only over their strip of land, which was plunged into relative darkness and seemingly constant cold and storm.

Through some high quality post hoc fallacious logic, they conclude that the gods were punishing their societal changes and there was internal pressure to roll it back. Moreover, while their neighbors still had day, their eternal night was nevertheless leading to a reduction of temperature for everyone, leading to increased external pressure too - the other peoples blamed them for hurting everyone.

As they neared defeat, they retreated further and further back until one day, they stumbled upon inhuman cries and led them to an ancient temple to the sun god. This temple was bright when people approached, despite the eternal night, and the wailing of the god could be heard, guiding them to the ritual that would summon the sun.


But, the next day, the sun would not rise again until the ritual was completed once more, every night, the same thing would happen. Thus began a regular process that continued indefinitely... it took work, but light was restored to the land (albeit not always on schedule).


After a while, people started to question if it really was an angry god. Is his wrath truly so eternal? Does he really react so mechanically? Not everyone agreed either way.

But, it didn't matter. If they do the process, the sun comes. If they don't, the god cries, darkness covers them, and their neighbors get pissed off. So they do it.



Fast forward a while. An A'millian SG team (what a great name!) arrives. It doesn't take them long to figure out what was going wrong.

The ancient temple of the sun god? They called it a mirror control station.

The cries of the gods? A jammed-mechanism alarm.

The ritual they painstakingly followed for so long? A manual bypass procedure.

... and a permanent fix?

"Gimme oh... eight hours, a TP unit with a saw, a file and an SRV."



Here's what happened.


The habitat's day/night cycle is mirror based. The mirrors are, at all times, trying to physically move. An electric motor runs at a constant speed, using a system of mechanical gears and cables to rotate the habitat's massive mirrors about their axis.

At night, the mirrors are at a sufficiently perpendicular angle that no sunlight goes inside. The motor keeps moving, and the next day, the mirror's reverse side comes into an angle, causing the sun to rise in the east and set in the west, just like on Earth, with a minimal stress on the machines - they were all steady-state and built to last.

(Not all habitats in this cluster, nor in A'millia and the other nations use this same mechanism. One downside to it is it takes twice as much reflective material to make the mirrors than the competing rocking mirrors design, since both sides need to be usable.)


One night, however, one of the gear teeth fragmented from damage (primarily caused by micrometeor impacts from debris that collects in the L4 point, with contributions from solar radiation) that built up over the years without an inspection.

The teeth now didn't line up properly, jamming the mechanism. A sensor in the motor detected a heat build up and shut the system down safely, sounding an buzzer and activating a warning light... trying to inform maintenance crews to check everything over and fix whatever needed to be fixed before the damage got any worse. A simple design that is perfectly safe as long as someone is available to tend to it when something goes wrong.

But, there were no maintenance crews, so the mirror remained in the open position.



Now, the problems of this mirror didn't affect it's two sister rigs spaced across the habitat. If all three were locked open simultaneously, the people inside would be in a lot of trouble as time went on. The natural temperature of a blackbody sphere at 1 AU around our sun is pretty cold: about 0 degrees Farenheit (-19 C).

A cylinder habitat would have it even worse - more surface area to radiate, with less to collect. People might survive it, especially if there's electric heaters they can use... but it's not really pretty.


Thankfully, here, the other two mirrors still worked properly, and were calibrated to a fairly comfortable climate. Losing ~2/9 of their heat input wasn't pretty though, not by any means. (why 2/9? It's one of three units, that was only closed about 2/3 of the time - the other 1/3 was supposed to be night anyway!). They went from a comfortable climate to a somewhat icy one.

The heat coming in from the other two locations shifted the prevailing winds as well. Normally, in a habitat, the biggest heat gradient is from the front end cap to the back. The longitudinal winds, if you will, are dominated by the Corolis effect, a direct result of the colony's rotation.

Now, though, in addition to that, the heat is out of balance. You have high pressure surrounding the defective third, blowing warm air in. While it was cooler than it would be thanks to the lack of direct sunlight, the air flows kept it from being unlivably cold, at the cost of a convection current pissing off your neighbors.

Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air. When the two pockets collide, the warm air dumps the water, causing the frequent storming.




As the people were forced to move by both weather and war, they went over some land that they hadn't used for a while. The sounds they heard as they moved was the maintenance alarm. Never noticed before because it never sounded so constantly before!

The mirror control station was never meant to be hidden, but over all the years and now with the freezing, it was buried under some vegetation and some ice, but still accessible easily enough.


Once inside, motion detectors activated artificial lights. Electric heaters had maintained a temperature inside that, along with the closed door, kept the lights and other equipment safe. Even being neglected by humans for all these years, it all still worked. (ancients always build things to last!)



The people were guided to the manual bypass system by the warning lights and illustrated operating instructions. This isn't stuff that's used every day in normal circumstances, so nobody is expected to have the processes memorized. There's manuals and checklists right there so the maintenance crews can make sure they do everything right. It wasn't designed for primitives, but hey, what works works.



There's three options to recover from the situation:

a) retry. If you reset the system, the motor will turn back on and can be ordered to just power its way past the problem instead of shutting down. This is potentially dangerous though - overriding the shut down may lead to a burn out or make the problem worse by grinding the gears, which is why the system won't do it without human intervention.

b) reverse. The motor can be started up in the opposite direction. Yeah, the run will rise in the west and set in the east, but it will rise and set... It's possible that reversing the motor will bypass the problem. Not a real fix, but can keep the system running while waiting on parts to arrive or whatever.

c) There's also a limited amount of manual access to the mechanism. This is meant to let a repair guy get in there and fix it, but could also be used to manhandle the enormous mirrors. (This isn't as ridiculous as it sounds - the motor runs at a constant state with a somewhat small torque. Think of a little motor moving a gigantic gear and remember the equation of work from physics class: work = force x distance. A little force over a very large distance does the same amount of work. While hand cranking it wouldn't move the huge mirrors by much, you could do it. You might also ask why expose this stuff to air when it could be all out in space. Well, normally, it may be in vacuum to last. But it's a pain in the ass to do a habitat surface EVA - where you'd be doing the work subjectively above your head; that is, the hull is up - to service it; internal access is much easier for the work crews.

Remote control robots (of which an A'millian TP unit is one specific family) make this less of a concern, but maybe the designers didn't have that tech available to them or didn't want to depend on it.)



Anyway, the ritual to please the sun god. The override (a), if they attempted it, wouldn't have worked. The broken tooth means it'd jump at an off angle, and just jam right back up, even if it did manage to force it's way past.

Reversing the polarity - literally, that's actually how you make a motor spin backward - however, papers over the problem. There's all good gear in the other direction for a solid 24 hours, at which point it will hit the broken tooth again (what luck it was an outer gear that broken! If it locked closed, that'd be bad too - too hot!). But, it's a workable plan.

Problem is when it hits the broken tooth from the other direction, the mechanism gets closer to it than it did from the forward direction. In the reverse direction on day #2, it skips a little and now can't move in either direction.

That's where the manual access comes in. By manhandling the system before restarting the motor, they can get it past that problem point, allowing the direction, once again reversed - each day, it'd change direction, like a rocking mirror design - to continue onward.

Thanks to the physics of the design, the force needed is something a human can provide, but the endurance isn't for most folks. Even moving it the small amount to get past this problem spot takes a pretty long time. But, a small team can make it happen.



An elaborate ritual, for sure. Enter the commands to reverse the polarity. Wait until tomorrow when the alarm sounds again. Hand crank it for a while. Reverse the polarity. If the buzzer still sounds, hand crank it some more... and this time, tell the motor to power past it without reversing the polarity. Repeat over and over and over again.




The repair process: go outside to find the broken tooth. Cut it off. Measure it twice, cut a new block of metal. And carefully, put it in place. Put a few smooth weld points on to back up the vacuum weld, and file it to smoothness with great care so your file doesn't attach too...

(btw, it probably shows, I know a thing or two about working with wood, but not so much about metallic megastructures. But the principles are all the same.)


Restart the system, watch it run a couple days to make sure it works.... and everyone lives happily ever after.








Or, maybe not so happily! Imagine the resentment you'd feel. For generations, you had bad weather, hatred from the outside, witnessed social regression and had to watch teams of people work hard... just to literally make the sun rise.

All that hardship... and these guys go in and permanently fix it in a matter of hours.


It gets worse when they describe the fix. Replacing a broken mechanical part? You and your people aren't high tech by any stretch of the imagination... but your craftsmen understood the process easily enough. You probably could have gotten together the needed materials if you tried.


Aside from not being able to reach it (no access to space) and not realizing where to look... you could have fixed this yourself. And hell, with access, they might have saw and tracked the problem themselves too.



All that hardship. A literal dark age, that could have been prevented with just a wee bit on top of what they already had. That's gotta feel pretty shitty.


anywho bed time
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

"I still really hate those pompous assholes who quote themselves in their sigs." -- Me

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Re: Fleshing out the Amillian solar system

Post by Destructionator » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:27 am

lol, I said ideas plural but only wrote up one in like the two hours I was here. me so slow
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

"I still really hate those pompous assholes who quote themselves in their sigs." -- Me

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