Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

NASA looking at building tractor beams for space
Network World ^ | 1 November 2011 | Michael Cooney

Posted on 11/02/2011 11:18:39 AM PDT by ShadowAce

Tractor beams -- the ability to trap and move objects using laser light – have generally been the purview of Star Trek and other science fiction shows but NASA has real-life space plans for the far-out technology.

NASA this week said it had awarded $100,000 to researchers at its Goddard Space Flight Center to study tractor beam technology that could remotely capture planetary or atmospheric particles and deliver them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis.

More on NASA: NASA's 7 wicked cool crop-circle corn mazes

NASA said its researchers will be looking at three experimental methods for corralling particles and transporting them via laser light to an instrument -- akin to a vacuum using suction to collect and transport dirt to a canister or bag. Once delivered, an instrument would then characterize their make-up, NASA said.

NASA described the three experimental technologies:

Optical tweezers:  The optical vortex or "optical tweezers" method -- involves the use of two counter-propagating beams of light. The resulting ring-like geometry confines particles to the dark core of the overlapping beams. By alternately strengthening or weakening the intensity of one of the light beams -- in effect heating the air around the trapped particle -- researchers have shown in laboratory testing that they can move the particle along the ring's center. This technique, however, requires the presence of an atmosphere.

Solenoid Beaming:  Using optical solenoid beams -- those whose intensity peaks spiral around the axis of propagation. Testing has shown that the approach can trap and exert a force that drives particles in the opposite direction of the light-beam source. In other words, the particulate matter is pulled back along the entire beam of light. Unlike the optical vortex method, this technique relies solely on electromagnetic effects and could operate in a space vacuum, making it ideal for studying the composition of materials on one of the airless planetary moons, for example.

Bessel Beaming: The third technique exists only on paper and has never been demonstrated in the laboratory, NASA said. It involves the use of what’s known as a Bessel beam. Normal laser beams when shined against a wall appear as a small point. With Bessel beams, however, rings of light surround the central dot. In other words, when seen straight on, the Bessel beam looks like the ripples surrounding a pebble dropped in a pond. According to theory, the laser beam could induce electric and magnetic fields in the path of an object. The spray of light scattered forward by these fields could pull the object backward, against the movement of the beam itself, NASA said.

"Though a mainstay in science fiction, and Star Trek in particular, laser-based trapping isn't fanciful or beyond current technological know-how," Principal Investigator of the project Paul Stysley said in a statement.   "The original thought was that we could use tractor beams for cleaning up orbital debris. But to pull something that huge would be almost impossible -- at least now. That's when it bubbled up that perhaps we could use the same approach for sample collection."


TOPICS: Technical
KEYWORDS: space; startrek

1 posted on 11/02/2011 11:18:40 AM PDT by ShadowAce
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

2 posted on 11/02/2011 11:19:04 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

A John Deere with headlights?


3 posted on 11/02/2011 11:21:26 AM PDT by RexBeach (There is no such thing as a good tax - Winston Churchill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Just don’t aim it at an F-104.


4 posted on 11/02/2011 11:24:28 AM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

How is this going to advance Islam?


5 posted on 11/02/2011 11:26:01 AM PDT by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mountainlion
How is this going to advance Islam?

Uhh--we can pull their god, the moon, closer to them?

6 posted on 11/02/2011 11:28:12 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Can we capture Uranus?


7 posted on 11/02/2011 11:33:15 AM PDT by wxgesr (I want to be the first person to surf on another planet.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
"NASA this week said it had awarded $100,000 to researchers..."

$100K? That's it? That's like one junior-level guy (maybe with benefits) for a year with no other support of any kind.

8 posted on 11/02/2011 11:34:08 AM PDT by alancarp (Liberals are all for shared pain... until they're included in the pain group.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

who ever said they were made of laser light?

Do reporters even go to school? It seems most reporters have not even graduated kindergarden.


9 posted on 11/02/2011 11:38:34 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah, DUH dah-dah!

Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah, DUH dah-dah!

ooohhhhh-weeh! ooooohhhh-weh!

10 posted on 11/02/2011 11:40:49 AM PDT by frithguild (Restricting access to capital - Liberalism: The sharpest tool of big business, banks, etc.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Only 2 ways. Magnetism/electromagnetism or mastering the manipulation of gravity.


11 posted on 11/02/2011 11:42:28 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Attacking Wall Street because you're jobless is like burning down Whole Foods because you're hungry.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
Hey NASA. Before you build the phasers and the tractor beam, how about building a space ship. You know one that actually goes into space. NASA is great at power point space capsules launched by youtube rockets. But when it comes to that actual hardware thing they don't do that any more.
12 posted on 11/02/2011 11:45:04 AM PDT by GonzoGOP (There are millions of paranoid people in the world and they are all out to get me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Charles Martel

That’s right. The pilot just might be the father of the guy who’ll pilot the first flight to Saturn.


13 posted on 11/02/2011 11:45:11 AM PDT by wolfpat (Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. -- Cicero)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: frithguild
Why...it's my old ship. The "Botany Bay".


14 posted on 11/02/2011 11:45:29 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Attacking Wall Street because you're jobless is like burning down Whole Foods because you're hungry.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

If they do develop this thing, they need to use it to sweep the crap in low Earth orbit. There’s a lot of dangerous junk there.


15 posted on 11/02/2011 11:47:45 AM PDT by wolfpat (Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. -- Cicero)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: alancarp

My office collectively runs around $5000/hour. That grant would cover us for 20 hours. In practice, we bid tasks with specified team members and burn the money against labor hours by that person against the task. Money is managed very carefully. Your observation is correct assuming there are no startup costs and the tasking can be efficiently dropped to a junior engineer ready to work immediately.


16 posted on 11/02/2011 11:50:02 AM PDT by Myrddin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: wolfpat
If they do develop this thing, they need to use it to sweep the crap in low Earth orbit. There’s a lot of dangerous junk there.

That was my thought too.

17 posted on 11/02/2011 11:58:30 AM PDT by proud American in Canada (Go, Herman!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce
Could I get a 200K grant to work on developing phasers? How about a 500K grant for this “beaming” technology idea I have.
Then I have all the equations worked out for this great big round “doorway” that when the proper chevrons are engaged will transport people across the galaxy to other worlds. It really makes “tractor beams” obsolete. That has to be worth a cool million from NASA...
18 posted on 11/02/2011 12:00:52 PM PDT by rightsmart
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mountainlion

“How is this going to advance Islam?”

Post of the day! LOL....


19 posted on 11/02/2011 12:01:22 PM PDT by buffaloguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: buffaloguy

Wow—you must have really liked it.


25 posted on 11/02/2011 12:03:00 PM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce

Sorry about that. Not sure how it happened.


26 posted on 11/02/2011 12:11:26 PM PDT by buffaloguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: buffaloguy

I’ll bet you were posting that comment during an ion storm.


27 posted on 11/02/2011 12:19:30 PM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Charles Martel

No. I just updated to IE9 and it isn’t really telling me what is going on with updates.


28 posted on 11/02/2011 12:23:25 PM PDT by buffaloguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Bloody Sam Roberts

The Botany Bay fared much better under the tractor beam than Captain John Christopher's F-104 Starfighter, I tell you!

29 posted on 11/02/2011 1:00:18 PM PDT by frithguild (Restricting access to capital - Liberalism: The sharpest tool of big business, banks, etc.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: frithguild
The Botany Bay fared much better under the tractor beam than Captain John Christopher's F-104 Starfighter, I tell you!

That's because the EPA/DOT/OSHA really started requiring CDLs to drive tractor beams.

30 posted on 11/02/2011 1:17:16 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Calvin Locke
That's because the EPA/DOT/OSHA really started requiring CDLs to drive tractor beams.

Next you know they'll be requiring licenses for possessiona of Corbomite.

31 posted on 11/02/2011 1:59:14 PM PDT by frithguild (Restricting access to capital - Liberalism: The sharpest tool of big business, banks, etc.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson