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TheSpaceGame — Design Your Route To Jupiter

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the try-the-clarke-kubrick-corridor dept.

Space 76

An anonymous reader writes "The Advanced Concepts Team of the European Space Agency is celebrating World Space Week (4-10 October 2010) with the release of 'The Space Game,' an online game for interplanetary trajectory design. The Space Game is an online crowdsourcing experiment where you are given the role of a mission designer to seek the best path to travel through space. The interactive game, coded in HTML5, challenges the players to devise fuel-efficient trajectories to various bodies of the Solar System via a user-friendly interface. The aim of the experiment is get people from all ages and backgrounds to come up with better strategies that can help improve the effectiveness of the current computer algorithms. As part of the events organized worldwide for Space Week, the first problem of the game is to reach Jupiter with the lowest amount of propellant. The best scores by 10 October will be displayed on the Advanced Concepts Team website and the three best designs will also receive some ESA prizes."

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76 comments

Can we stake our own assumptions? (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791040)

If we have to do it with today's technology, aren't we handicapping ourselves? By the time we are actually able to make a manned stab towards Jupiter we should be pretty far advanced, technologically speaking.

If we assume we travel at or near the speed of light, we can pick an almost straight line, give or take a few radians. That would get us there within minutes.

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33791160)

Is traveling at the speed of light towards Jupiter going to use the least propellant?

What you really want to invent is a space drive that uses no propellant at all. ;-)

I personally don't think manned travel to Jupiter is that far off, though. And this would be useful for space probes long before that.

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791264)

What you really want to invent is a space drive that uses no propellant at all.

Uh, I think so, Brain, but we'll never find a slingshot that's big enough.

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33791382)

That's what the motherships are for, assuming you upgrade your THELs:
http://www.kongregate.com/games/CasualCollective/the-space-game [kongregate.com]

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33791874)

Actually, that's perfectly doable if you use the Interplanetary Transport Network, which gives you practically zero-energy paths to anywhere in the solar system once you get to the appropriate Earth-Sun Lagrange point (which is fairly easy.) Problem is, you trade off energy expenditure for increased flight-time. Those paths take *years*.

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (4, Interesting)

edremy (36408) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791202)

While light speed (or any reasonable fraction thereof) is going to be unavailable due to energy issues, we should be rethinking the assumptions here. Minimizing Delta-V is great- but perhaps it would be better to think about propulsion strategies that can give us higher total delta-V rather than working out multiple gravity assist trajectories? While they work, they also tie you to very long flight times and narrow launch windows. The Grand Tour of Voyager 2 isn't possible anymore- even New Horizons needed a narrow range of dates or it would miss the Jupiter assist, adding several years to flight time.

Chemical rockets just aren't a great option- at least let us use an ion engine, or perhaps let us see what we can do with a VASMIR?

Yeah what is best path? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791438)

we should be rethinking the assumptions here.

Yes like what is best? I think the best path is to instead spend the resources to build space stations that generations of humans can actually live and reproduce on practically.

Then we can even have humans visiting Jupiter, Venus, Mars etc. No need to rush.

Plus we would then have the basic building blocks for large space colonies, which buys the human race some more time.

Re:Yeah what is best path? (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33793342)

Build space stations and put them in "cycler orbits." (Was it Buzz Aldrin who coined the term "cycler orbit" or did he merely popularize id?)

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33792508)

Chemical rockets just aren't a great option- at least let us use an ion engine, or perhaps let us see what we can do with a VASMIR?

Or Project Orion [youtube.com] ... if only politicians weren't such pussies.

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791290)

Yes! it is like the old "How to carve a ship" bit... "Take a block of wood, and carve away anything that doesn't look like a ship!"

In other words, "just do it"...

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791980)

Sephiroth [youtube.com] had a very efficient method to find the shortest path to Jupiter.

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (2, Funny)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791306)

So instead of "handicapping" yourself, you assume lightspeed travel and simplify the problem to a linear trajectory. Bravo?

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792916)

Precisely. The trick is to cross your fingers and imagine that you're already there, then by the power of New Age BS everything will magically fall into place.

Improbability drive, here we come! (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797286)

I keep somehow expecting scientists to discover some new wrinkle of the universe that shows us that Douglas Adams might have been right after all.

Cheers,

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791336)

If we assume a Bergenholm inertialess drive [wikipedia.org] , we can be at Jupiter in SECONDS!

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792030)

If we assume teleporters, it wouldn't even take a second. Therefore my completely unrealistic solution is much better than your completely unrealistic solution.

p.s. "a few radians" is actually quite a lot. There's only 2 Pi of them in an entire circle. "a few radians" means atleast two radians, which is over 114 degrees. And we could "give or take" them, so it's ~114 degrees in either direction for a total range of ~229 degrees. Far from a straight line

Re:Can we stake our own assumptions? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33793772)

Teleporters? Pshaw!

Wormholes is the way to go. Just step across and you're 4000 miles deep in Jupiter's Red Storm.

You've never heard of my ship? (4, Funny)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791080)

It can make the Jupiter run in less than twelve parsecs.

Re:You've never heard of my ship? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791278)

Too bad nobody's been working on parsec since 1999 [parsec.org] .

Waste of time (5, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791128)

This is exactly the kind of combinatorial optimization problem that is superbly well-suited for solution by software and quite possibly the last kind of problem you want to hand to a bunch of humans, unless those humans happen to be programmers with backgrounds in celestial mechanics, heuristics, and genetic algorithms.

As a way of driving public interest in the ESA's space program, it's not a bad idea at all, but if any of its users manage to come up with a better solution than the ESA's software, it's not a triumph for crowdsourcing, it's a sign that the ESA needs to hire new programmers.

Re:Waste of time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33791352)

They mention Monte Carlo by name in their video. If they know about random simulations formally, surely they know about genetic algorithms. They say at the bottom of the home page,

We do not claim that computers are not able or are particularly bad at solving such problems. Rather, we think that 'watching' humans design complex interplanetary trajectories can be of help to improve the intelligence of computer algorithms.

This is for publicity and for fun. It's the only explanation that makes sense without more information.

Also, it's a decent example of the sort of thing possible with HTML5 crap, and it's GPL, so at least it's got that going for it.

Re:Waste of time (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791902)

I was really excited until I saw

Browser Check: Check you browser

Now I'm still excited, but it got knocked down a notch.

Re:Waste of time (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792050)

Don't worry, it'll work on every browser except MSIE. Worked fine on Chrome6 for me. And it's a fun game to mess around with. I wish they had more tutorial missions though.
p.s. While on the subject; is MS planning to support HTML5 canvas in IE9?

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33793292)

This is exactly the reason why html5 is dying off - and much sooner than most people expected (even its advocates.)

Apart from anything else the sad truth is that people just don't want to go back back to the days of "this website is best viewed with [xxxxx] browser."

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33793828)

This is for publicity and for fun. It's the only explanation that makes sense without more information.

Or it could be because this is not a "solved" problem. This is a variation of the n-body problem that includes one body that's not in an orbit. Approximations are good enough most of the time, but maybe, just maybe, having more humans looking at the problem will reveal a new solution that's more accurate. No, I don't expect that to happen, but it's possible.

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33791504)

If I remember correctly, NASA/ESA/somebody is already pondering the use of the "gravitational map" of the solar system for these kinds of optimization problems. As such a map is probably already giving a limited set of right answers, some time is probably wasted going trough answers from the set of wrong answers..

Re:Waste of time (1)

elmartinos (228710) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791634)

Since it is optimizing positions which can be easily encoded as floating point numbers, I would use Differential Evolution for the optimization, or Particle Swarm Optimization (or both).

Re:Waste of time (3, Interesting)

Synon (847155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791934)

This is exactly the kind of combinatorial optimization problem that is superbly well-suited for solution by software and quite possibly the last kind of problem you want to hand to a bunch of humans, unless those humans happen to be programmers with backgrounds in celestial mechanics, heuristics, and genetic algorithms.

As a way of driving public interest in the ESA's space program, it's not a bad idea at all, but if any of its users manage to come up with a better solution than the ESA's software, it's not a triumph for crowdsourcing, it's a sign that the ESA needs to hire new programmers.

Yes yes we get it already, computers will always be better suited for solving these kinds of problems. As such, I would like to point you to the front page of their website which states this-

"The Space Game is a game and a crowdsourcing experiment run by the Advanced Concepts Team of the European Space Agency aimed to improve the methods for designing interplanetary trajectories. We do not claim that computers are not able or are particularly bad at solving such problems. Rather, we think that 'watching' humans design complex interplanetary trajectories can be of help to improve the intelligence of computer algorithms."

I don't know why your post is marked as insightful as they clearly state that beating ESA's software was not the point of the game.

Re:Waste of time (1)

idji (984038) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792080)

it's buggy too. I have Leg number "NaN" with flyby altitude of 12 digit integer. I feel all i am doing is minimax. I spend 95% of my time finding the min position of a planet in an orbit - they could automate that - and the user then spends there time looking more at orbits than the 3rd decimal place after delta-V. They could also let it run 500 times in the browser to find a few low energy starting candidates. There should also be a visualization of the variant orbits so I can move closer to that global maximum. At the moment there are no visual clues to where any minima could lie.

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33792440)

Hey i don't see their algorithms taking in to consideration a random floating chunk of TNT in space that could be used for free speed by exploding it, somehow, behind the ship!

Or how about those aliens from Mars that don't want anything to do with anyone, they'll piss all over the rocket if it comes near Martian space! They only let the other ones through recently because we gave them a useless big diamond we grew in the lab.

Yeah, didn't think of that Mr Algorithm, did you!

Dumbed-down GTOC (4, Informative)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792452)

Although I work in the Space Industry I am not a Rocket Scientist but it is my understanding that this is *not* a purely computer solvable problem and is explained on the GTOC website: http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/mad/op/GTOC/indexII.htm [esa.int]

Re:Dumbed-down GTOC (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792852)

it is my understanding that this is *not* a purely computer solvable problem

since there is no obvious "best trajectory" for many deep space missions

It is computer solvable but there are two problems:

1) The ancient GIGO garbage in garbage out problem... Without a full description including solar sail effects, differential outgassing, etc, you can be pretty far off. Read up on the pioneer anomaly, not specifically for that anomaly but to see what all has to be included... lightwave IR radiation pressure from the hot parts of the spacecraft, drag from the solar wind, etc. All at best semi-predictable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly [wikipedia.org]

2) Overly simplistic model. "best trajectory" will be different for every vehicle design. One that cannot survive severe electrical conditions can't aerobrake against Jupiter no matter how much fuel it might save. One that would roast itself to death inside earths orbit can't slingshot around Venus. If the RTG dies "too much" or ancient TWT microwave amplifiers would expire, a 20 year looping path isn't going to work. If you blow on average 10% of your attitude thruster fuel per year, taking more than a decade isn't going to work. Same for radiation exposure, heck for imaging probes they usually have a calibration target to tune the pics and the calibration target paint might fade. Etc etc etc.

Re:Dumbed-down GTOC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33793238)

Although I work in the Space Industry I am not a Rocket Scientist but it is my understanding that this is *not* a purely computer solvable problem and is explained on the GTOC website...

Well, I work for the Space Industry as well. My job is to sweep the floors and make sure the toilets are sparkling clean. Want to hear my opinion? Good.

I think they need to recycle human waste in space. This would mean less weight (or mass even) for the space ship, and less work for me in cleaning up the toilets (assuming people lick their plates clean). And yes people do need janitors in space, because it's my observation that astronauts cannot be counted on to be cleanly in their work and habits.

I was going to bash this (1)

Wingman 5 (551897) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791134)

I was going to bash this and say they could just take the money and feed random trajectories in to the formula and get the same results, but I got to thinking, this is actually good. This can give you the top 100 or so options then you spend the cpu time tweaking this or that variable. You may actually get some better results that doing raw multivariable calculus with a lot of variables and unknowns could do.

Crowdsourcing for this is useless (3, Interesting)

Laser Dan (707106) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791136)

Crowdsourcing for this may be a good bit of publicity, but is really just wasting time.
A genetic algorithm running on their "simulation" will find the best solution within the accuracy of the parameters very quickly. Run a couple of times to make sure it is the global minimum and you're done.

Their competition has a hard limit on mission duration and the goal is minumum delta-v, so the fitness function is very easy to define.
If anyone wants to win the competition, figure out how to write parameters to their simulation and read the delta-v and mission duration, run a GA for a while and you automatically win.

Re:Crowdsourcing for this is useless (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791284)

I gotta ask... any relation to Disco Dan [ocremix.org] ?

Game design is hard ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791144)

... the first problem of the game is to reach Jupiter with the lowest amount of propellant ...

This seems like a trivial thing to do. At escape velocity give engines a little burst, coast to the orbit of the destination, a little burst to decelerate, wait for the planet to get to that point. OK, its not very efficient with respect to time but that wasn't a stated criteria. Game design is hard, even for rocket scientists.

Re:Game design is hard ... (3, Interesting)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791242)

Not so simple. You can gain a lot by getting boosts off of other planets and moons. I suspect that minimum is just under earth escape velocity, with a boost from the moon. Then over lots of orbits you can use earth flybys to modify your orbit. Might then be a win to use either Venus or Mars. The optimal path might take a VERY long time.

Don't forget the trick that burning your fuel deep in a gravity well is a big help - a near-solar flyby might also be an efficient route.

Of course the "right" way to do it is just use higher ISP engines and go direct so you get there quickly and don't need to wait half a generation to get your data.

--- Joe Frisch

Re:Game design is hard ... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792892)

The optimal path might take a VERY long time.

Assuming an infinite supply of maneuvering thruster fuel, infinitely long lived electronics, infinite RTG half life, infinite radiation shielding, etc.

Also theres some lovely and interesting theoretical orbits that unfortunately involve passing beneath the "surface" of the sun or the gas giants. Admittedly surface is a vague concept, but if you have to use aerobraking calculations you're probably doing it wrong since you're turning valuable velocity into heat. Or would be a perfect slingshot around Mars except for the bad luck of impacting Deimos, etc.

Proving that all "relevant" moons and asteroids will not affect the orbit is the hard part, given how many there are.

Game design is hard. (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791296)

Game design is hard. Let's go shopping!

oops, accelerate not decelerate (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791356)

... the first problem of the game is to reach Jupiter with the lowest amount of propellant ...

This seems like a trivial thing to do. At escape velocity give engines a little burst, coast to the orbit of the destination, a little burst to decelerate, wait for the planet to get to that point. OK, its not very efficient with respect to time but that wasn't a stated criteria. Game design is hard, even for rocket scientists.

Oops, I think I got that mixed up a little. IIRC its accelerate to maintain the destination's orbit, deceleration would be to get captured by the destination itself.

Am I missing something? (2, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791210)

I mean, anything beyond jupiter would be a challenge. But jupiter itself? Hohmann transfer orbit, maybe with a sling around mars (would give very very low boost in deltaV, so not worth the launch window constrains IRL but ok for this)...

Oh hi! I'm Mr. Radiation, welcome to Jupiter! (3, Insightful)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791276)

You didn't need that DNA intact, did you?

Re:Oh hi! I'm Mr. Radiation, welcome to Jupiter! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791966)

What kind of radiation, and is it really that bad? Sorry, I'm not all that familiar with the Jovian system.

Re:Oh hi! I'm Mr. Radiation, welcome to Jupiter! (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792638)

Europa is appx. 420,000 miles from Jupiter. Europa receives appx.1,000,000 rads/day from Jupiter. 800 rad is fatal.

A trajectory to Gliese 581g would be more exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33791332)

...even though it can only be reached by the great-great-great-grandchildren of the astronauts who set out on the journey.

How it Works (1)

hugg (22953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791370)

I'm very confused why a computer couldn't just iterate through millions of iteration of the equation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambert's_problem) and pick the best.

Heck you could even use my old game: http://code.google.com/p/exoflight/

Re:How it Works (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33792076)

Their approach is even more difficult than you think. My understanding is that, first you have to find a privileged class citizen that has lost the use of his legs, then you have to substitute for him professionally, using his DNA samples to fool the screening systems. Do that for along time, and with a little right-handed luck, you'll be able to make your projected run. Maybe get a hot girlfriend in the process.

Re:How it Works (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792846)

I thought of that as I was running the tutorials, but then I saw the competition. Calculations for one or two gravitational influences aren't hard, but once you hit three it starts to get hideously complex. The competition has five influences (Earth, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the sun) acting on the craft.

Shortest distance (3, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791374)

is zero. Just need to get the right vehicle for that, i.e. one that looks like a monolith full of stars.

Do they mean... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791380)

...a release of slingshot [slashdot.org] implementation in HTML5?

Vernor Vinge? (2, Interesting)

pontifier (601767) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791486)

It sounds very similar to a game that was described in The Peace War by Vernor Vinge.

Re:Vernor Vinge? (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791572)

cool; I'm currently working my way through Marooned in Realtime, a sequel that stands on its own IMHO; ought to see how it goes with the original.

Re:Vernor Vinge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33792020)

Agreed. I didn't even know I still remembered that book...

Pedantic Nazi Alert (2, Insightful)

DougF (1117261) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791490)

...the first problem of the game is to reach Jupiter with the lowest amount of propellant.

I hate to be pedantic, but is the objective to arrive at Jupiter WITH the lowest amount of propellant, or is the objective to arrive at Jupiter USING the lowest amount of propellant? I suggest there is a big difference between the two.

Re:Pedantic Nazi Alert (3, Funny)

Stihdjia (1870316) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792134)

Thank you for your worthwhile contribution to Slashdot!

I, too, was boggled by whether they meant fuel-efficiency, as previously stated in the article, or if this was a contest to find out who could design the most pointless trajectory. Will this puzzle ever be solved???

Re:Pedantic Nazi Alert (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792990)

I had a go, and tried to create a trajectory that would use up ALL THE POSSIBLE FUEL IN THE UNIVERSE, just because I am evil.

Re:Pedantic Nazi Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33793434)

...the first problem of the game is to reach Jupiter with the lowest amount of propellant.

I hate to be pedantic, but is the objective to arrive at Jupiter WITH the lowest amount of propellant, or is the objective to arrive at Jupiter USING the lowest amount of propellant? I suggest there is a big difference between the two.

Not really. It's assumed that they would like to arrive at Jupiter with enough fuel to make the return journey back to Earth. So, if you can calculate the optimal return trip from Jupiter to Earth, then you know how much fuel you need to arrive with. Because extra weight is expensive, you'd like that amount of fuel to be minimal (including whatever margin of error they feel is appropriate). And the reason the return journey is the first problem of the game is because the mass of fuel for that return trip needs to be accounted for when calculating the trip there.

I'm SURE that's what the guys that wrote that were thinking....right guys? [psssst....just nod your head yes]

Re:Pedantic Nazi Alert (1)

toolie (22684) | more than 3 years ago | (#33797864)

That question doesn't mean you are pedantic, it means you are incapable of using common sense.

19.26 km/s (1)

sane? (179855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791544)

For the competition journey. What's a good figure?

16.98km/s (Re:19.26 km/s) (1)

jusdisgi (617863) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791734)

I got 16.98km/s, which at the time was 9th in the rankings. It was of course quickly pushed off; #10 right now is 15.91km/s. Johannes Schnabl has had the top spot with 10.67km/s the whole time I've been looking. I wonder if he's one of these geniuses upthread running a GA?

Re:19.26 km/s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33792454)

I got 12.something km/s at first try. You need to adjust the "legs" to get better values, and orbit planets around enough so there'll be "legs" available to begin with.

It resets legs back to 1 if a planet is moved too much.

Re:19.26 km/s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33793596)

Wow. 19.26? You are good. The best I could get was 55.17. I'm sure I could do better (and could probably beat your figure), but I ran out of time (I can't just sit here clicking the Randomise ! button all day).

While we're on the topic... Orbiter (4, Informative)

seanthenerd (678349) | more than 3 years ago | (#33791762)

Check out Orbiter [ucl.ac.uk] - without a doubt the most realistic (and incredible) space flight simulator around. My little brother has basically taught himself orbital mechanics using Orbiter and online tutorials for the game (if you can call it that!) The real deal - Hohmann transfer orbits and spaceflight mechanics-type concepts I'd never heard of.

When I saw "the space game", I thought for sure they were talking about Orbiter. If "designing your own route to Jupiter" is something you're interested in, do yourself a favour and check it out.

Re:While we're on the topic... Orbiter (1)

themadprogrammer2 (1915650) | more than 3 years ago | (#33793210)

I'm with you. Orbiter's the best free program out there. AGI.com's STK software suite is the only commercial orbital navigation planning software I know of. A lot of defence contractors use it, as well as DoD, NASA and the AirForce. It's also used for Geospatial Intelligence and Space Battle Management.

Re:While we're on the topic... Orbiter (1)

savanik (1090193) | more than 3 years ago | (#33795206)

The TransX plugin can help you plan out the proper mission plan, too, with burn times, Delta-V requirements, et al. There's a bit of a learning curve involved, but nothing that taking a couple hours in the tutorials won't fix.

I don't think Orbiter models effects like solar sails or thermal thrust yet, though.

Two Launches Necessary (4, Funny)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792292)

You'd have to do it in two launches, it won't work with only one.

The first launch needs to terminate with significant mass at many miles per second in Washington D.C. prior to the Jupiter launch in order to prevent the whole Jupiter project being killed halfway through planning.

Hey, just sayin'.

Strat

Re:Two Launches Necessary (2, Informative)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792550)

It's the ESA, not NASA ; you'll need a dozen more launches.

In no timeframe? (2, Interesting)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 3 years ago | (#33792654)

So basically just avoid the other planets along the way, and go the slowest speed imaginable?

annoyingly buggy (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33793912)

in the challenge, everytime i get the delta-v low (around the 22-25 mark), i'll end up moving one planet slightly wrong and the game just completely changes the trajectories and i'll have to spend another ten minutes tweaking it down to 25 again...

nice idea and all, but the implementation just annoyes me enough to give up after a few tries

I have travelled much further on less...in 4 step (1)

bigrockpeltr (1752472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33794048)

now just to go in the garage and find that warp pod i salvaged from the Ur-Quan dreadnought that crashed in my backyard.
Prerequisites: start with 0 fuel.

Step 1:hit quasi space and arrive as close as possible to our destination. (so far we have used 0 fuel.)
Step 2: use Umgah Caster to call Google employees, sell data on behaviour of /. posters. -> buy some fuel
Step 2b: proceed to destination.
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit!

Aero Gravity Assist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33794146)

I haven't looked at the game (blocked by NASA) but I expect they have not included aero-gravity assist (AGA) maneuvers. If you can make your spacecraft in the shape of a hypersonic waverider, you can use aerodynamic lift in the atmospheres of Venus and Mars to get much more deltaV than a gravity assist alone.

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