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It's too bad we're not ready to launch probes to visit and explore such transient objects at a moment's notice.

I think it would make sense to plan a probe mission where the probe would be put into storage to stand by for these kind of events. It would still be a challenge and might be impossible to find a launch window and reach the passing object in time, but it would be worth trying.

Just imagine how tragic it would be, if an ancient artifact of an alien civilization drifts by earth and we don't manage to have at least a look at it.

Yeah and then you'd need the delta-V to match the object's velocity as well, which would be solar escape velocity and then some. Although having probes scattered around the solar system that could be trained onto the object to get observations from multiple simultaneous angles would be neat.

I hope one day we'll get a solar system wide observation network. Like the current arrays of radio dish observatories, but on a solar system scale.

The delta-V would be a big problem. Though, if the probe is reansoably small and you would have reservation for a F9 Heavy flight, you could get some impressive delta-V. Detecting a candidate for such a mission early on would help a lot too.

Wouldn’t such an object be emitting radio signals that earth could receive?

Not if it's something like another civilization's Tesla Roadster.

> Not if it's something like another civilization's Tesla Roadster.

'Oumuamua is red and headed toward Pegasus (the winged horse) after a very long journey starting longtime in spacetime ago. It is wildly tumbling off-kilter and potentially creating a magnetic field that would be useful for interplanetary spacetravel.

They're probably pointing us to somewhere else from somewhere else.

If this is any indication of the state of another civilization's advanced physics, and it missed us by a wide margin, they're probably laughing at our energy and water markets; and indicating that we should be focused on asteroid impact avoidance (and then we will really laugh about rockets and red electromagnetic kinetic energy machines and asteroid mining). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_impact_avoidance


[We watch it fly by, heads all turning]

Maybe it would've been better to have put alone starman in the passenger seat or two starpeoples total?

Given the skull shape of October 2015 TB145 [1] (due to return in November 2018), maybe 'Oumuamua [2] is a pathology of Mars and an acknowledgement of our spacefaring intentions? Red, subsurface water, disrupted magnetic field.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_TB145

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CA%BBOumuamua

In regards to a red, unshielded, earth vehicle floating in solar orbit with a suited anthropomorphic creature whose head is too big for the windshield:

"What happened here?"

"That's not a knife... This is a knife." -- Crocodile Dundee

Right. As unlikely it is to run on other civilizations remainders, there is quite some chance for future humans to have a surprise find of a 2008 Tesla roadster :)

Only if it is actively emitting them. So if the aliens sent an active probe, it might emit radio signals. But if it is some junk from an alien civilization, it would just be trash drifting by. It would still be increadibly interesting to catch such an artifact.

Just another roadside picnic?

Let's say it takes us another 50 years to fund and prepare a mission, could we still catch up with it?

In 50 years it would be some 41bn kms away (it travels at a speed of 26km/s). Say you want to reach it within a five year span that would mean we'll need to build a spacecraft that could travel 0,1% the speed of light. Probably within our future capabilities considering all the theories that have been proposed for interstellar travel. For example the Breakthrough Starshot project has predictions for 10%-20% of the speed of light.

Of course reaching it and landing on it, especially at these speeds, are two completely different things.

We could revive Project Orion[1] and use up some of the world's nukes in a productive way. If there was high confidence that ’Oumuamua was an alien constructed object, I would support it.


So far we've managed to accelerate three probes to solar escape velocity using a lucky constellation of planets for gravity assists. Catching up with an object that has a 50 year head start seems very unlikely to me unless you assume very advanced propulsion systems, e.g. nuclear pulse propulsion or something similar. Even then catching up would take a very long time, longer than anything we built survived in space so far. How do you power a probe that's supposed to travel for fifty years give or take?

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