Dec 21, 16 / Cap 20, 00 07:46 UTC

Catalysis: project for future  

I propose to consider one fiction, but in principle feasible if desired the idea for future. This text is something like a declaration. (Engl.) (Rus.) See also: (Rus.) I would like to introduce the idea of interested people, and then hope for the social "catalysis".

Dec 23, 16 / Cap 22, 00 02:17 UTC

Perhaps the translation is not very correct (original text in Russian). But, because here is the concept, I hope it will be understandable. Further I suggest to consider technical issues.

"Catalysis" is a public project in the field of space exploration, perhaps financed with crowdfunding, with no commercial component, with unlimited duration.

The aim of the project: the creation of favourable conditions for the development of intelligent biological life in the known part of the Galaxy, including taking into account the possibility of its disappearance on Earth and in the Solar system, with minimum expenses and using the available and implemented in the near future of technologies and technical solutions. Implementation of the project involves two successive stages, the first of which is mandatory, the second is desirable.

The first stage is the Fleet of Life. Involves sending to a known stable stars with the protoplanetary disks of the fleet of automatic devices – "Sowers", which is a simple low-speed solar sail vehicles with high resource structure. "Sowers" are carriers of catalysts of organic synthesis of the basic components (bases) of RNA and DNA from the gas material of the protoplanetary disk. Further on the surface of the catalyst component is a spontaneous synthesis of RNA (possibly DNA) and subsequent self-replication. By the time the physical destruction of the "Sowers" the process of self-replication in the protoplanetary disk should be autocatalytic. The result of the protoplanetary gas cloud in the "habitable zone" of stars is rich the simplest biological life, extending to the surface and the atmosphere of all the emerging exoplanets and their satellites. In contrast to known conditions in the Solar system, new planetary system the probability of life development initially tends to one. At the same time formed several potential complex biospheres, and their development to complex ecosystems with the existence of potentially intelligent species is declining by approximately 1-2 billion years due to the exclusion of the pre-biotic stage.

Technical execution. Taking into account the duration and the probabilistic nature of achieving the goal, the project is implemented by the r-strategy is the use of large groups of the same type as simple and cheap apparatus. A key element of the "Sower" are the biocatalysts. Given their low thermal resistance eliminates the possibility of the launch vehicles for energetically favorable for solar sailing scheme – solar orbit with a low perihelion (about 0.1 AU) and advanced heat shielding, and their further acceleration with the focus on the solar sail, laser or microwave radiation. At the same time, it is assumed aerodynamic braking "Sowers" have a purpose in the thin peripheral layer of the dust disk with access to a relatively stable orbit in the "habitable zone" with temperature conditions favorable for biological synthesis. This implies a low speed of flight of the order of C * 10-4, while the duration of the flight can be several millions of years. This, in turn, determines the choice of structural materials, with low requirements for heat resistance, but high radiation resistance. The basic constructive element – the canvas sails – in this case, it is advisable to perform not traditional for such structures aluminosiloxane polymer film, but aluminum foil. To ensure the controllability of the fabric may be reinforced with cords in the form of strips of a material with shape memory, for example, titanium nickelide – they managed reduction allows for variation of the geometry of the blade. One side of the sail is highly reflective is working, the other is applied to the catalyst. To ensure long-lasting resource is impractical to apply the catalyst directly on the canvas with a thin uniform layer, because it can be shattering. There are plans to increase on the surface of the sails of a forest of carbon nanotubes with a length of 1 µm with the inclusion of the catalyst in the wall – this will ensure not only its safety, but a much larger area washed by the gaseous medium of the protoplanetary disk. In addition, on the surface further creates the best conditions for the preservation and consolidation of the first molecules capable of self-replication. Question navigation and precise pointing devices still requires a solution. Taking into account the duration of the flight, radiation exposure and operation experience of modern space technology, eliminating the use of any sophisticated electronic components and only the simplest reliable analog devices. The possibility of the loss of a number of devices in this case was compensates their large numbers. While technically achievable, the specific structural weight of about 1 g/m2 a one thousand "Sowers" square canvases in a one square kilometer each will have a mass of 1 ton. Suitable at the same time in a common launch container, using traditional means of rocket and space technology.

The second stage is the Fleet of Memory. Involves the subsequent sending to the stars – recipients of the Fleet Life fleet of automatic devices – "Keepers ", which is a simple low-speed solar sail vehicles with high resource structure. "Keepers" are carriers of massively redundant information messages that enable a hypothetical reasonable residents encountered a planetary system at a certain level of cultural and technological development to the modern civilization of the Earth. In the optimum case the information encourages recipients to implement similar projects, which will make the process of propagation of intelligent biological life is autocatalytic.

Technical execution. The devices in this series are more massive than the "Sowers" of the Fleet of Life to ensure a far larger resource. Their sail is larger and has two reflective sides, because the inhibition must not be aerodynamically in the protoplanetary disk, and as the acceleration due to light pressure on its far periphery, where possible saving a few billion years, as the cores of distant comets and Kuiper belt objects in the Solar system. In this regard, perhaps, the surface facing the Sun during acceleration, must be made darker than it turned to the star when braking. The large size and bright surface of the sail should facilitate subsequent identification of the " Keepers" as an artificial object, a Hyper-intelligent inhabitants of the formed planetary systems. Because the selected acceleration method is no effective reservation of the device is impossible, the information protection from radiation and erosion dust damage provided by its application to the entire surface of the sails with multiple redundancy by various means for a variety of technical possibilities of reading. The primary information for attracting attention can be applied directly to the surface in a symbolic form, for example, using resistant coatings or perforation. The bulk of information can be written in the material of the sail by means of scanning tunneling microscopy.

The provision of bioethics and cultural ethics. Implementation of the project is not in any way a manifestation of "expansionism" of modern human civilization. Adaptation of any known biological organisms, including extremophilic, to the gas environment of the protoplanetary disk is extremely unlikely. The more unrealistic their shipping or delivery of their DNA (RNA) capable of self-replication, in a specified way, taking into account the duration of the flight and radiation load. The first phase of the project – the Fleet of Life only moves in the direction of greater likelihood is the possibility of the emergence and development of life on extrasolar planets formed, which is then evolve own unpredictable ways, taking into account features of the environment. Especially not a manifestation of "expansionism" to implement the second phase of the project, the Fleet of Memory. In order to detect in the far periphery of the planetary system " Keeper", to reach it and read some information, a hypothetical civilization must have a level of cultural, economic and scientific-technical development, at least not inferior to modern. To this period "the Keeper" will be an archaeological object, and its information – cultural interest, allowing the recipients to find out some reasons for their existence, and perhaps encourage similar actions. In that case, if " Keepers" is the only artifact of modern civilization in this planetary system over the past billions of years, the descendants of its founders to this point have either disappeared or are in the process of development has left this area of space.

Dec 23, 16 / Cap 22, 00 14:44 UTC

Dear Dmitry, I read all your articles about catalysing life in space. I think that, this project is big enough to make many engineers and scientists with different specializations work so hard. I'm sure this project will generate many patents in Chemistry, knowing that we need very selective catalysts (enzymatic catalysis for example, but they are sensitive), And also in Space Engineering and Technology. Then, revenues of these patents can be used to support the principle project. We can discuss deeply any further ideas to refine them (Especially technical ideas).

Dec 24, 16 / Cap 23, 00 10:48 UTC

Adel.B, thank you. Will answer you more, as soon as possible.

Dec 30, 16 / Cap 29, 00 06:46 UTC

Adel.B, I want to offer some thoughts on the details of the project. In the first place – a solar sail as the engine. The use of a catalyst involves a large surface area, this obviously leads to the idea of using solar sails during acceleration. A large area of the sail at low surface density, i.e. the use of very thin films, is required because catalysts valid for low heating temperature. It will not allow to use the proposed 35 years ago by Greg Matloff a very effective scheme circumsolar start (, but more sparing scheme with low acceleration type of Team Encounter ( In the particular case, possible acceleration in General without the use of the solar sail, due to the gravitational maneuvers, according to the classical scheme of Voyager, with the subsequent opening of the starting container (it must be disclosed even in the Solar system, because triggering any of the automatics in a few million years of flight, quite unlikely). But this scheme has a very limited application, in addition, the mass of the launch container is a ballast. Because the canvas sails is a power-type structure for housing of a catalyst or a carrier of information, it must maintain its mechanical strength during the entire period of operation. This eliminates the possibility of using any polymeric materials. According to Team Encounter in the above source, in the period of acceleration in the dozens of years the possible degradation of polymeric material such as Mylar to 30%, which is unacceptable. Requires the use of pure metal films. It's also possible, on their surface will be easier to build carbon nanotubes for the placement of the catalyst. Thus it is necessary to exclude the possibility of their sintering in a vacuum to deployment – possible pre-launch container filling with gas. This gas can then be used to open the container and deploy the sail on the principle of simple festive firecrackers. So, the optimal acceleration profile – a solar sail, perhaps in conjunction with gravity manoeuvres. More complicated schema braking. Have selected as targets stars the radiation pressure is several orders of magnitude less than the resistance of the gas in the protoplanetary disk. The effect of the solar sail will be negligible, especially because the probe of the Fleet of Life is deployed to star the dark side with a catalyst that is similar in structure to the velvet. For such a probe will be optimal aerodynamic braking is a gradual decrease in speed due to touch the outer edge of the disk and the transition path in the form of a narrowing spiral, with the restriction of the intensity of the braking according to the criterion of the permissible surface temperature. For probes of the Fleet of Memory that must remain outside the protoplanetary disk, the optimum combination of aerodynamic braking and gravity assist, the probe should "strike" at the outer edge of the disk with a minimum intensity of heat, but the touch should be sufficient to ensure that the probe slowed down and was captured by the star, going to a remote, but a closed orbit. Both maneuvers require very precise aiming, and while the details of their implementation are not presented, moreover, that the working of some complicated automation to the end of the flight are excluded. A simple analog control system, allowing, for example, to sustain the orientation of the sail normal to the direction of radiation of the stars, could be made on the basis of very thin strips of a material with shape memory type Nickel-titanium. In the late 1980s, the USSR had successfully carried out the experiment "Crab" on the deployment in outer space on a cargo ship "Progress" of the two constructions in the form of a regular ring. In the simplest case the control of the sail one can imagine four strips, stretched from the center to the corners of a square sail. The closer the angle of the sail to the radiation source, the more stretched ribbon by the heating and the greater the moment applied to this angle. Solvable problem will require more complex designs. Perhaps at the stage of launching the probes still need to equip some control units for precise aiming, which in turn will increase the cost of the project. Of particular interest is the behavior of substances, including water inside the nanotubes with catalyst. There is evidence 2016 about the unusual phase transitions of water in carbon nanotubes, including being in solid phase at a temperature of more than +100 degrees Celsius, and the change of tube diameter in the order of 0.01 nm when the thickness of about 1 nm can move the border crossings by tens of degrees. This phenomenon gives hope to organize the topology of nanotubes from a catalyst to condense the substance of protoplanetary disk and stored in the liquid phase water, which would broaden the range of possible orbits for probes of the Fleet of Life and lead the synthesis of complex molecules, including to DNA, within a forest of nanotubes. Of course, already now it is possible to conduct the of equivalent endurance tests of various structural materials in accelerators of protons, creating for a short term cumulative radiation burden equivalent to get in interstellar space for millions of years. This will help to eliminate many unsuitable materials. The major organizational issue today is the lack of recognizable individuals and organisations, is able to "raise the flag" project – by analogy with the project Starshot by Yuri Milner. I myself am not a recognizable media figure, and have the financial resources many orders of magnitude less than the minimum required. Further, of course, it is possible to finance the project through commercial application of its technical solutions. Indeed, the wide application will receive catalysts, and due to the significant uncertainty of conditions in the protoplanetary disk, it is advisable to use simultaneously many their modifications. Now a broad presentation of the project on behalf of well-known and recognized by competent individuals or organizations such as the UN – probably in connection with the project Asgardia.

  Last edited by:  Dmitry Novoseltsev (Asgardian)  on Dec 30, 16 / Cap 29, 00 06:46 UTC, Total number of edits: 1 time

Dec 30, 16 / Cap 29, 00 17:38 UTC

Dear Dmitry, thank you for this exposition. In fact it contains many valuable ideas. I told you before, it is really a big project, but this does not mean that it is impossible. What we can do for now is to carry out this project but theorically, first of all, through simulation. We can construct groups of voluntary competent engineers (Propulsion Design group, Flight and Space Engineering group, Catalysis and Biochemistry group, Control and Telecommunication group and the last is Coordination group). Certainly, each group will face a lot of technical issues and challenges, so we need to develop realisable solutions, you know, simulation now, is a very attracting tool as experimentation has limits and it is very expensive in several cases. We can try big number of solutions and get the optimum one. After that we will try to contact individuals or organizations who might be interested in our results. Maybe the future persons in charge of research in Asgardia will boost up this project too.

Jan 9, 17 / Aqu 09, 01 07:48 UTC

Adel.B, thank you, of course, you're right. Please specify which group you propose (you mentioned Propulsion Design group, Flight and Space Engineering group, Catalysis and Biochemistry group, Control and Telecommunication group and Coordination group), who you may see at the head of these groups or organizations on the basis of which these groups can be created. We should try to connect with them and bring information about the project. Modeling, of course, necessary, but the problem is that in many cases the source data for the models themselves are not accurate enough or fragmented - in the end it may be a numerical model of a "spherical horse in a vacuum" from a joke about physicists. But as a zeroth approximation, you can start to do something. Also I would like to know your thoughts, who could undertake such tasks. It is important that in our case the project is not a "toy" as "Daedalus" and analogs and in principle designed to implement, albeit with vague times and options.

Jan 11, 17 / Aqu 11, 01 02:51 UTC

It is expected that some objective data on the near-interstellar medium will be received within the next 10 years ( Apparently, they can be used to model - like movement and interaction of the environment with the materials, including with our catalysts. Of course, the data recorded by the instrument in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's better than nothing. Otherwise, it will inevitably appear all sorts of unexpected events of type "the Pioneer" effect " are not included in the models and after starting the process we have not adjusted.

Jan 11, 17 / Aqu 11, 01 07:37 UTC

It is especially important to first create a correct physical model of the motion of our system. In the simplest case, the motion of the spacecraft described by the classical laws of celestial mechanics, but there are some nuances - for example, "the effect of "Pioneer" at the expense of uncompensated photon thrust from thermal radiation caused by the asymmetric shape of the device, it is still within the Solar system have deviated from the calculated position by about 100 km. And in our case at a distance of hundreds of light-years the unit will fly far past the protoplanetary disk. The movement of a solar sail in the General case already described by Newton's and Lebedev's law, taking into account the light pressure. But that's not all. On a charged body (for example, E-sail by Pekka Janhunen), already seriously affected by the pressure of the solar wind (protons) and magnetic field distribution, which is on the outskirts of the Solar system known vaguely, and the target stars, its distribution is unknown in general. Our sail - not electric, but its possible spontaneous electric charge under the influence of the solar wind, dust, or by knocking out electrons of the hard photon radiation. In addition, magnetic fields also directly affect the sail materials (aluminum is diamagnetic). Finally, the solar wind and magnetic field non-stationary, and are changed as a result of solar activity.Such a task is technically completely solved, but for the correct numerical simulation is very complicated. And very need-specific experimental data. In your opinion what organizations could implement this part of the project?

  Last edited by:  Dmitry Novoseltsev (Asgardian)  on Jan 11, 17 / Aqu 11, 01 07:37 UTC, Total number of edits: 1 time

Jan 13, 17 / Aqu 13, 01 04:52 UTC

Maybe we should like at Breakthrough Starshot, to create a compilation of data on key issues for further design and modeling aspects modeling the origin of life, biocatalysts and biosynthesis, solar sails, the properties of the interstellar medium, protoplanetary discs, and other materials (like and a selection on the main problems and their solution (like Is it possible to use the resources on the website of Asgardia? Who's ready to do it - referring to the technical part , and filling in the data?

Jan 31, 17 / Pis 03, 01 17:02 UTC

Dear Dmitri, I'm sorry, first of all, I took a long time to reply to you, finally I'm here to reply (I suggest to you use emails for a fast communication if you like). Anyway, for your answer I'd like to say that, Coordination group is to guid the other groups, coordinate and make the big lines of the research, this group is certainly a multidisciplin team.

1.Propulsion Design group, choosing the right propulsion system and make all necessary calculations. You specified Dmitri that we can use solar sail as engine, this chose will be justified by this team and also its desgin.

2.Flight and Space Engineering group, a very important question is : where will be the good place in the universe to catalyse life ? This team will answer this question and others, like specifiy the optimal flight line to reach it.

3.Catalysis and Biochemistry group, choose the right catalyst system, known the non conventional conditions in space,

4.Control and Telecommunication group and Coordination group, will be in charge of doing all controls that we need, we may need robots for example.

For modeling, of course, the problem is that in many cases data source for the models themselves are not accurate enough, but we can make it accurate everytime we do "updates" for the model, it is what Oil and Gas Reservoir Engineers do to enhance thier models (successive approximations, Метод последовательных приближений).

Feb 1, 17 / Pis 04, 01 09:38 UTC

Thank you. Please specify the email address for fast communication. It is strange that no one joins the discussion.

Feb 1, 17 / Pis 04, 01 13:02 UTC

Publicly posting email adresses isn't the cleverest thing you could be doing.

If you absolutely must, then do so in a format that humans can understand and machines looking for email adresses will miss, or if picked up won't be valid to use. ie turn: into and indicate the "%" are to be removed to make it a valid address.

  Updated  on Feb 1, 17 / Pis 04, 01 13:03 UTC, Total number of edits: 1 time
Reason: markdown ate my formatting

Feb 2, 17 / Pis 05, 01 03:34 UTC

Here are the solution to the problem of photon sail deceleration at much higher speeds than we do. But our probes surface density is much higher, and graphene as a structural material raises questions - both from the point of view of resource for such period, and from the point of view of the anchoring of catalysts. Just in case I sent the authors information about Catalysis. I hope they will take part in the discussion.

Feb 3, 17 / Pis 06, 01 12:40 UTC

Dear Friends, EyeR, you are right, about posting email in forums, so I got a way which allowed me to find Dmitrys email. About the article Dmitry, the authors did a great job, they also highlighted some technical challenges, the risk of high-energy particles impact, thermal overheating and known, that travelling by such high speed may cause the exposition to abrupt thermal gradients which may affect negatively the physical structure of the sail. I believe imaging several scenarios would certainly enhance this model.