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Project Icarus: the Gas Mines of Uranus

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the cue-the-obvious-jokes dept.

Space 155

astroengine writes "When considering the fuel source for a fusion-powered interstellar probe, wouldn't it be a good idea to set up a colony on the moon and start pillaging the lunar surface for its helium-3 riches? Not so fast, says Adam Crowl of Project Icarus, there may be a far more viable source. What about the gas giants? Although Jupiter's gravity could pose a problem and Saturn's rings might get in the way (and forget Neptune, that place is one hell of a commute), perhaps the helium-3 in the Uranian atmosphere could be mined using atmospheric balloons?"

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OH YEAH !! IF YOU ARE SO SMART YOU (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315848)

Spell Albakerkee !!

Really? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315860)

The gas mines.... of Uranus.

Please tell me that this story is a joke.

Re:Really? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315982)

No no, it's deadly serious. Of coure, we can't just jump in blindly. We'll have to probe Uranus first.

Re:Really? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316086)

Exactly, we wouldn't want the Klingons to stop us!

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316460)

It doesn't mention how high they're aiming in the atmosphere. Presumably the greatest gas density would be at the bottom, but we'd need to carefully analyse the hole situation to choose the best option. The article mentions penetrating the rings of Uranus using a ramjet, which sounds like a good start.

Re:Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316868)

There are some places that man just wasn't meant to go.

Re:Really? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317790)

I can't quite put a finger on Uranus.

Re:Really? (1)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315990)

Maybe we should speed up the timetable and finally change the name of that planet to Urectum and finally end these silly jokes.

Re:Really? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316788)

Isn't the entire premise of the story ridiculous? That somehow, 40 years after we last sent a human to the moon (and we would have to reinvent the technology to do it today), we just just go:

You know, it's too easy to strip-mine the moon, We really should jump into the full-scale mining operation in a much more hostile environment, many orders of magnitude further away. And just to make it a little challenging, everybody will have to communicate only using sign language, so the workplace will be differently-abled-friendly.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317546)

"differently-abled-friendly" just made me a little furious. your other words are fine though.

Re:Really? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316080)

The gas mines.... of Uranus.

Please tell me that this story is a joke.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to mine Dodgers stadium after a bunch of overweight baseball fans have loaded up on beer and hotdogs?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316104)

Imagine you're this Adam Crawl guy that gets asked what he does for a living whenever he's at social events. "I'm working out a way of probing the gas mines in Uranus".

I'm guessing his wife has pleaded with him to just say, "I'm an accountant."

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316128)

Accountant? Good god no! I'd rather confess to playing a piano in a whorehouse.

YAH RLY (3, Funny)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316122)

I felt a great disturbance in the 'net... as if a million voices suddenly cried out in bad jokes, and were suddenly posted on Slashdot.

This story should be fun.

Re:YAH RLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316386)

I'm sorry, but astronomers renamed Uranus to put an end to that stupid joke once and for all.

Re:YAH RLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316442)

What's it called now?

Re:YAH RLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316552)

Urectum.

Re:Really? (2)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316126)

Would you prefer "The Untapped Resources in Uranus" as an alternate?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316498)

That's a shitty title.

Re:Really? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316190)

The gas mines.... of Uranus.

Please tell me that this story is a joke.

IT'S A TRAP!

Re:Really? (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316422)

I see they're using Urectum's deprecated name.

It's certainly a Joke Mine (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316580)

nuf sed

Re:Really? (1)

purplie (610402) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316760)

Come on guys, that joke was old decades ago, and it was juvenile even when it was new. Give it a break.

Re:Really? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316910)

Alright you want something serious? How about this: What are the odds that something like this would EVER ever ever make even enough profit to break even much less be worth the incredible amounts of resources you'd need to pull this off? Getting that far out with anything big enough to haul a decent load sure ain't cheap, and building it a hell of a lot less so. Considering how much the energy and resources are needed here on Earth, what are the odds this will be anything but someone talking out their ass?

Frankly I think this pie in the sky crazy crazy stuff, while fun to dream like FTL travel and transporters, is so far away from being even slightly practical it isn't even funny. Hell even the ability to mine our own moon or reclaim the junk that is choking our orbit is beyond us right now, and we're supposed to pull this off?

If scientists want us to go to the stars they need to worry about fixing our energy problems here on Earth first. Superconductors, extremely efficient solar capture, perhaps sats that concentrate and beam solar energy directly to solar collectors here on Earth. If we can fix the need for fossil resources here on Earth then I have a feeling the rest will come, and come a hell of a lot faster at that. We can't really worry about seeing if there are any neighbors until after we keep our own house from collapsing under our ever growing need for resources.

Re:Really? (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316958)

Mandatory xkcd reference [xkcd.com]

Re:Really? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316968)

Forget it dude.

Fifty years before any of that tech matures to the point where we could even reliably make round-trips to Ceres and back, the immature version of that tech would have been used to wipe out 90+% of the population and have the rest of us back to harvesting dirt.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317300)

Yada yada yada expensive, yada yada yada never been done

Re:Really? (1)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316840)

EDI: Really, Commander?

EDI: Probing Uranus.

Re:Really? (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317620)

But Uranus must use natural gas. Solar power doesn't work where the sun don't shine.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317632)

Every single time... and these 'jokes' still moderated as funny. Damn it, keep your 9 years olds out of Slashdot.

please not first post? (-1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315868)

I can't possibly be the first to comment on "gas mines of your anus" can I?

Helium 3? Not Hydrogen Or Methane? (1)

saudadelinux (574392) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315944)

Re:Helium 3? Not Hydrogen Or Methane? (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315984)

Ha! *rimshot!*

(sorry, it was just laying there...)

Re:please not first post? (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315950)

Nope, you're not!

Not just Uranus (0)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315872)

I would expect gas to be fairly prevalent around anyone's anus.

AS LONG AS YOU MINE YOUR OWN ANUS FOR GAS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315876)

I say live and let DIE !!

that title (1)

c.derby (574103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315878)

that title is just begging for jokes...

Re:that title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315988)

as if "cue the obvious jokes" wasn't obvious enough

Shocked (0)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315880)

Gas in Uranus? Surely nobody would make a joke about that.

Just don't try to dial 9 chevrons (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315898)

As your Uranus blowing up is not a good thing.

Re:Just don't try to dial 9 chevrons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315908)

Wormhole XTREME!

Re:Just don't try to dial 9 chevrons (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315970)

I know a Jaffa joke, wanna hear it?

Re:Just don't try to dial 9 chevrons (2)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316094)

Only if it doesn't involve runny noses.

Re:Just don't try to dial 9 chevrons (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316864)

Well played, sir, well played.

Re:Just don't try to dial 9 chevrons (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316204)

Who would have thought goatse would lead to such a major scientific breakthrough.

Skip ahead to here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36315916)

This is not a joke post.

whew (0)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315918)

this research doesn't pass the smell test.

Despite the obvious (3, Interesting)

linatux (63153) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315968)

this is actually an interesting article. Certainly more thought-provoking than the latest smart-phone malware.

Uranus has a gassy atmosphere (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315992)

Just sayin'.

Re:Uranus has a gassy atmosphere (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316218)

I'll mod you informative, but I'm out of mod points.

Cheaper to make 3He on Earth? (5, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36315996)

Rather than shipping factories to outer planets and extracting helium-3 from a dilute mixture, why not use technology that already exists? Irradiate lithium in a fission reactor, get tritium as a result, and let it decay to helium-3.

Re:Cheaper to make 3He on Earth? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316172)

Nah, we need lithium for laptops, smart-phones and Tesla-s.

Re:Cheaper to make 3He on Earth? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316286)

Lots of tritium is already produced in heavy water reactors, like CANDU. Most of it was just released, but I think they are getting smarter and are storing it now.

This is considering He-3 is in huge demand right for cryogenic research.

Anyway, He-3 fusion is much further away than H2+H3 fusion simply because of massively higher energy levels for confinement.. He-3 fusion could only be researched if we are unable to find a solution for the high neutron flux in H2+H3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER#Reactor_overview [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cheaper to make 3He on Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316288)

Commercial fusion reactors would require tens of tons of helium-3 each year. Breeding tritium with lithium-6 consumes the neutron.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3#Manufacturing

Re:Cheaper to make 3He on Earth? (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316362)

It would depend on how much you need.

You're right in that it would probably be cheaper to generate it here on Earth. However, there is a finite supply on Earth and lithium, as c0lo mentions, is used in other products. Snagging large chunks of it to turn into Helium-3 may create shortages and increase costs. So at some point, it would become cheaper to make Helium-3 elsewhere.

Re:Cheaper to make 3He on Earth? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316924)

Let's put it this way - your method is only slightly more efficient than mining it. In the same way that it's slightly more efficient to swat an elephant with a toothbrush than with a toothpick.

In the words of my man Sagan... (2)

Palmsie (1550787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316014)

"It does seem to be sufficient short-term profit to motivate private industry. If we humans ever go to those worlds than it will be because a nation or a consortium of them believes it to be to its advantage or to the advantage of the human species...

Just now, there are a great many matters pressing in on us that compete for the money it takes to send people to other worlds. Should we solve those problems first or are they a reason for going?"

Re:In the words of my man Sagan... (5, Interesting)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316906)

"It does seem to be sufficient short-term profit to motivate private industry. If we humans ever go to those worlds than it will be because a nation or a consortium of them believes it to be to its advantage or to the advantage of the human species...

Just now, there are a great many matters pressing in on us that compete for the money it takes to send people to other worlds. Should we solve those problems first or are they a reason for going?"

No, we shouldn't, thanks for asking. That's a common argument, but unfortunatley wrong. Basically put spin offs from the investment in the space program and other research from after WWII and through the cold war have transformed our technological civilization.

... to the point that landing on the moon was just about a flag. In the case of the Apollo program, $150 billion in todays money was dumped on our brightest minds (about 400,000 people, many highly skilled jobs) top universities and our most cutting edge industry. If it all crashed and burned on the launch pad it wouldn't have mattered, the boost to humanity was awesome.

If you look at list of the problems we need to solve on this planet, they read like a list of technological problems to get to the stars. No 1 might be clean, cheap, unlimited energy that fusion would be a good candidate for. No 2 might be ecosystems - we'll need food and air recycling for long space flight. It goes on. It's the teach a man to fish principal. We need to skip frittering away resources on what seems to be the most pressing and urgent problems and go straight for the big goals.

Dare I say it, we have our problems now, and are poorly equipped to face them because we gave up on spaceflight some time in the 1970s and worried to much about problems to close to home.

Re:In the words of my man Sagan... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316936)

Just now, there are a great many matters pressing in on us that compete for the money it takes to send people to other worlds. Should we solve those problems first or are they a reason for going?"

The amount of money needed to go there is annually something like .1% of the money spent on 'solving' most of those problems. Not that any of them are actually solvable.

Tibana... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316032)

Insert Tibana gas mines of Bespin joke, complete with reference to Lando Calrissian.

Re:Tibana... (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316694)

Came for this refrence, and was not disappointed.

Re:Tibana... (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316970)

Amazingly, it took this long for someone to make it. I wonder if company policy will allow capes?

Helium-3 ?!? (1)

kpoole55 (1102793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316124)

I would have thought it would be full of methane.

Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316206)

Wouldn't it be nice to have an operating fusion reactor before we talk about mining Helium-3? No one has yet proven fusion is a viable source of energy and yet everyone is assuming it'll all work out in the end. You might as well base it on cold fusion. I'd love to see fusion proven as a source of clean energy but I've been following it since the 70s and we aren't any closer now than we were back then.

Re:Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316558)

And assuming that we get that fusion power to work, wouldn't the Moon be a good place for the fuel source to get a fusion-powered interplanetary mining expedition to Uranus in the first place?

Re:Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316648)

"Assuming" is a dangerous position to take. People have assumed for decades we'd solve the problems with nuclear waste which has never materialized.

FYI mining the Moon is related to providing power for the Earth. The article deals with power for an interstellar probe. A massive difference. It may be far more practical to mine the atmosphere of Uranus than the Moon for the interstellar probe. All this still assumes that fusion power works which thus far it hasn't proved to be a viable source of power.

Re:Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316748)

"Assuming" is a dangerous position to take. People have assumed for decades we'd solve the problems with nuclear waste which has never materialized.

All the technical problems have been solved. Your attempt to construct a coatrack argument is noted.

Why (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316248)

Why travel a gigameters or even petameters when we can travel less than a megameter to get our fuel?

Periphery - Icarus Lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316252)

Mansur rocks!

Okay, they're looking for helium in Uranus? (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316262)

Sorry, no Hynerians here. Just humans. All we produce is methane.

Really "Project Icarus"? (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316270)

How many space-based projects have we seen just this year called "Project Icarus"? It's as though there's no other popularly recognisable legend/myth with a reference to flight, let alone one that represents overreach & hubris as a spectacular failure at the point of apparent success.

Re:Really "Project Icarus"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316354)

Because "Project Deep Space" sounds even more like a joke when followed by "the Gas Mines of Uranus"

Re:Really "Project Icarus"? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316432)

And "project suppository" is even less appealing.

Re:Really "Project Icarus"? (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316930)

How about Prometheus? It seems fairly fitting for a project to enable the development and widespread use of commercially viable fusion reactors.

Re:Really "Project Icarus"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317360)

It's the sequel to Project Daedalus, so it's a better name than "Daedalus II" or worse. Plus it was effectively named three decades ago by the original Project Leader of Daedalus.

It's often forgotten that Icarus only "failed" by pushing the limits of his father's design.

along with the weiner jokes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316282)

i think i had enough to stay disconnected for a few good weeks.

never ever ever (1, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316334)

It's never ever ever ever ever going to happen. It takes more energy to go to another planet and get the fuel than you would ever get from the fuel. To simply accelerate the mass of the helium itself to a decent speed takes such a huge portion of the energy it contains, possibly more actually, that it would be more expensive than any other energy source ever invented. You could launch coal into space from earth for cheaper and run a steam powered spaceship for cheaper than dragging gas back from a distant planet.
I have a theory about this. Hmmm, energy is a hot topic right now. Getting lots of energy gets attention from the media and government. NASA is getting de-funded. I think this entire thing is an exaggeration to get more space travel funded.

Re:never ever ever (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316516)

That's assuming you use today's technology. We may find a cleverer way to get out that far than just burning chemical rockets. Space travel is less than a hundred years old, after all.

For instance: solar sails. You could propel an autonomous mining ship to Uranus using the solar wind and gravity assist to accelerate. Then, when everything is all done, it redeploys the sails in such a way to decelerate its obit around the sun (and using gravity assist again, it works both ways), making it fall toward the inner solar system. It may take 50 years between trips, but if you have a fleet of these things? You're laughing on the gravy train to limitless clean energy.

Re:never ever ever (2, Interesting)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316782)

It cannot be helped if you lack imagination. With your limited logic, yes the plan definitely seems unfeasible.

But let us look at the obvious flaw in your argument. First, define "decent speed". The energy you are actually expending is in achieving escape velocity. Once you are in space and already moving towards Earth, little energy is required. There is no friction so as to speak of, in space, for one thing. And who said the fuel needs to reach us within a week? The ship might take 30 years. Or more. Think of it as a leisurely speed. With a few such ships being launched at regular intervals, you can establish a constant chain of supply.

Second flaw in your logic, you are a tad too eager with the "never ever". Like those other idiots who announced that the man is not meant to fly and will "never ever" do so. You fail to account for new technologies or creative solutions emerging. If we humans are good at anything, it is at solving problems. All that is needed is that we should actually WANT to go to other planets and mine them for resources. And that we should allot resources towards finding a way to do this.

Idiots like you of course, are short sighted and simply figure that it is a waste of your tax-money since only your kids/grandkids will benefit instead of you. Who cares if the mankind stays chained to a single planet and gets wiped out in a single catastrophe, since you do not think it likely within your own lifetime. And you do not give two hoots if your kids die cursing your name, for your short-sightedness.

It took decades/centuries of research and inventions before we got to the point where we actually directly benefit from Wright Brother's initial flight efforts. And at that time idiots like you existed who denounced it all as a waste of money. Now you will happily hop into a flight, since you are benefiting directly. If I pointed out how we have benefited from investing into NASA(ear thermometers used for babies, scratch resistant glasses, sports/athletic shoes, communication satellites that provide you with TV, telecommunications, safety grooving on highways that prevent accidents, water filters, CAT scanners, computer microchips which led to PCs and Laptops, insulation, speedo swimsuits, memory forams, rust-proof coatings to name a few), you will just poo-pah. You will rather have folks die instead of having NASA contribute to the MRI technology that saves lives across the world. Because NASA funding as per geniuses like you, is a waste of money.

Folks like you would demand moronic laws in the name of "think of our children" but when it comes to actually making their future a little better, folks like you don't actually give a shit about your children and your grand-children. After all, YOU are not benefiting immediately. Right?

Re:never ever ever (1, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316854)

I need... mod... points.

Mod this up, guys.

>Folks like you would demand moronic laws in the name of "think of our children" but when it comes to actually making their future a little better, folks like you don't actually give a shit about your children and your grand-children. After all, YOU are not benefiting immediately. Right?

That is exactly what it's all about. It's the driving force behind the tea party. It's what's behind all the "hurr, that's socialism" bullshit. It's the "I've got mine, fuck you" niggardly attitude where anything that benefits everyone in the long run is somehow socialist because spending a dime today on it is immoral according to the church of Mammon and Ayn Rand, the prophet PBUH.

These are the same people who ridiculed the word "Hope" in the Obama campaign.

It's on my fucking state flag. I have not enough middle fingers for such folks.

*spit*

--
BMO

Re:never ever ever (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317006)

I voted for Obama, and even I rolled my eyes at the "Hope" and "Change" They were more or less just words used to propel the campaign forward. Its no different than when whoever the Republican candidate for President in 2012 shows up and uses the "Family Values" and "Make America Strong" slogans. They don't actually say anything. Any Republican coming after a Democrat is going to "Change" things. The same is true for any Democrat following a Republican.

Re:never ever ever (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317042)

What made me angry was the sneering way "Hope" was denigrated.

As if it's something worthless. It's not.

The treatment the word got at the hands of people like Sarah Palin disturbed me.

Sure, it was used as a slogan. It's not a bad slogan to have, though. Like I said, the slogan is on my flag. It's there for a reason. Hope means that tomorrow can be a better day than today. It might not be, but it can.

Hope.... is a bad thing? Hope is to be sneered at? Hope is to be torn up and discarded? Hope is to be perverted and used as a weapon? I dunno man, but down that path lies evil.

--
BMO

Re:never ever ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317928)

What made me angry was the sneering way "Hope" was denigrated.

As if it's something worthless. It's not.

The treatment the word got at the hands of people like Sarah Palin disturbed me.

Sure, it was used as a slogan. It's not a bad slogan to have, though. Like I said, the slogan is on my flag. It's there for a reason. Hope means that tomorrow can be a better day than today. It might not be, but it can.

Hope.... is a bad thing? Hope is to be sneered at? Hope is to be torn up and discarded? Hope is to be perverted and used as a weapon? I dunno man, but down that path lies evil.

-- BMO

Hope as an ideal is great. Hope is not a strategy. The difference between ideals and strategy, the difference between inspiration and force -- these are the reasons that the current dictator is doomed to fail.

Re:never ever ever (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317466)

The US went from its first human space flight to putting a man on the moon in a decade. If the will to do something is there we can do it, and these days it will be a hell of a lot cheaper too.

JAXA and the ESA both seem interested, so fingers crossed...

Re:never ever ever (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317698)

and these days it will be a hell of a lot cheaper too.

On the contrary, it will be 10 times more expensive, as it will turn into the greatest pork barrel project ever.

Re:never ever ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317002)

Why would it need to be dragged back to Earth? Why not use the gases as a fuel stop for vehicles leaving the solar system or build an automated mining facility that converts those gases into energy that could be beamed back to Earth via lasers or microwaves?

Aside from that, this guy doesn't sound like he knows too much about the planets. The biggest problem with hitting up Jupiter is its large and powerful magnetosphere. Very high levels of radiation would pose a bigger problem than just its gravity. Saturn should be no problem since the rings are so thin that you would have to purposely fly into them to cause an accident.

Re:never ever ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317386)

Obviously you haven't done the maths or looked at the physics involved. The energy in fusion fuels is much, much higher than what is needed to propel fast freighters between the planets. We're talking millions of times the energy compared to chemical fuels. Obviously that simple fact has escaped you.

Better project name needed:myth + Soundgarden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316402)

Any project failures and Slashdot will be full of references of how Icarus flew too close to the black hole sun....

Sooo.... (2)

Greystripe (1985692) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316514)

would this be the first time a goatse link would likely be modded informative?

Damn (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316542)

Someone beat me to the fart joke. :(

Democracy to Uranus (1)

flock.dux (1938468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316716)

It seems that someone tries to bring democracy to Uranus -- Flock

pheeewww (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316746)

it might be smelly but they are not going mine my anus

Troll post is Troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36316756)

I'm pretty certain that NASA won't consider a project named ICARUS for the obvious connotations.

Isn't this a fantasy? (1)

Coriolis (110923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36316972)

No-one has a working (energy-positive) controlled fusion design. Icarus in theory has an advantage in that it's powered by thermonuclear device detonation, but the technological and engineering challenges are still immense, and AFAIK no-one is anywhere close to solving them. Let alone how you'd solve the political problems inherent in building a 54000 tonne nuclear-engined missile. It strikes me as putting the cart before the horse in a big way to be worrying about fuel at this stage of the project. You might as well have started the article "When considering sources of gold to feed your dragon..."

Where to start mining? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317010)

So where is the best place to start? At the pole?

Helum-3 ?? What for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317226)

With both Polywell and Andrea Rossi fusion projects we still need Helium 3?
I think this become sort of urban legend thanks to movies like "Moon" but is far from being true today.

Project Icarus? (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36317508)

I would have thought such a title more fitting for an operation near Mercury.

Bespin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36317774)

Enough said?

Uranus? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36318080)

It's more likely than you think.

Wrong Direction (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36318086)

No, this isn't another "youranus" joke. It's obviously a bad investment in time, energy and money to drive all the way to Uranus and back with gas just for the relatively small amount of energy we'd get out of it back here. For a much smaller investment we could get enough to power the Earth back from deuterium mining on the Moon as the summary notes. Or, even better, we could put solar collectors across Lunar surface, then beam the energy back to the Earth through a small network of lunar/solar/Earth orbital satellites to floating sea platforms. The lunar energy projects would pay off within a decade, and replace practically all energy (and emissions, and mining, and their territorial conflicts) here on Earth.

But Uranus' gas "mines" are still an excellent resource. Once Earth's energy needs are satisfied, lunar/solar power would still provide enough to push human exploitation through the other planets. Lunar/solar power is an excellent way to get to Uranus, especially if we set a trail of collectors and transmitters along the way. But once there, solar energy density is so low that even very large collectors left to concentrate solar energy beamed to the Uranus neighborhood will be very low. To get beyond Uranus, and even around in the Jupiter-Saturn neighborhood, pulling energy from Uranus' gas would be a good way to go. Or rather from each gas giant.

By the time we get Earth's energy hooked up to lunar/solar and get out to the outer planets, I expect we'll have gas->radiation fusion tech that works well in the uninhabited vacuum of interplanetary space. Dropping fusion plants into gas giants' atmospheres to pump a network of "solar" transfer stations orbiting planets, moons and the Sun would complete a Solar System power network delivering energy throughout the system along the paths our machines, and perhaps eventually longterm colonizing humans, travel. Power from Uranus, and then Neptune, would be the best way to push our travel outwards from our planets into really distant places, and eventually to other stars.

Let's not turn "Uranus gas mining" into just a joke. We'll get to it. But let's get serious about lunar/solar power systems, and the satellite infrastructure to support it. We've had the tech to do it for over a decade, and the dire need to replace our sugenocidal legacy energy systems with it for even longer. Back to the moon for solar power; Uranus can wait.

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