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Baxter S.,C O Christopher Schelling | Elliott J.,Leeds Beckett University
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2012

At present we have only one agreed public policy for handling the detection of an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), the 'First SETI Protocol' of 1989, which guides action in the immediate aftermath of detection, even though SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) constitutes an active search for such a detection. The purpose of this paper is to set out areas in which policies might fruitfully be developed, including reviewing the rationale and investment in SETI, handling ETI artefacts, and approaches to direct contact. 'Negative' possibilities will be examined, for example, whether an ETI artefact or data should be purposefully destroyed. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Baxter S.,C O Christopher Schelling
JBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society | Year: 2016

This paper describes a preliminary study of a long-stay mission to explore the Alpha Centauri system with a fast unmanned probe: that is, an interstellar probe designed to meet the Project Icarus Terms of Reference [1]. Alpha Centauri is a complex triple-star system; to explore such a system effectively within a finite mass and energy budget will require trade-offs concerning probe trajectories and subprobe deployment. In addition the complexities of this end phase of the interstellar mission will have implications for the design of the rest of the mission profile. The paper's essential purpose is to synthesise relevant data on the Alpha Centauri system to support specific mission studies to that system. The model strategy presented here uses Hohmannellipse minimum-energy trajectories for the exploration of (hypothetical) close-in Centauri A-B systems, while a flyby subprobe released early in the interstellar cruise is used to explore the Proxima system. This work is intended as a proof of concept of one low-energy strategy; more refined designs could be based on finalised propulsion vehicle designs, more realistic planetary system modelling, and optimised trajectory analyses. This paper is a submission of the Project Icarus Study Group.

Baxter S.,C O Christopher Schelling
JBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society | Year: 2014

This paper is a survey of the portrayal of super-Earths in science fiction. The discovery of super-Earths is so recent that the theoretical study of such worlds is in its infancy. However super-Earths were anticipated to some extent in science fiction. While in retrospect not all these fictional worlds are physically plausible, they do offer a glimpse of the wide array of super-Earths, and perhaps life forms, to be anticipated in reality.

Baxter S.,C O Christopher Schelling
JBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society | Year: 2012

In 1948 Olaf Stapledon gave an address to the BIS in which he summarised his vision of mankind's cosmic future: 'One can imagine some sort of cosmical community of worlds ⋯' One might ask, however, since the universe is vastly older than mankind, why races on other worlds have not already built such a community. This is a 'Fermi Paradox' question. The Paradox is based on the observation that there has been time for extraterrestrial intelligence to arise and colonise the Galaxy many times over, yet we see no sign of such endeavours. In this paper Stapledon's novels are retrospectively analysed from the point of view of the Fermi Paradox. In Last and First Men (1930) humanity is forever isolated because life and mind are rare in the Galaxy, and interstellar distances are too large ever to be traversed. These are classic candidate Fermi 'solutions'. The 'solution' implicit in Star Maker (1937) might be criticised in that it posits that humanity lives at a special epoch, with the cosmically transforming development of interstellar travel occurring a 'mere' ten billion years after mankind, in a universe supposedly ∼200bn years old. Stapledon died in 1950, the year the Paradox was formulated, and was probably unaware of the Paradox. However to apply retrospectively Fermi thinking to Stapledon's cosmologies is to gain a new insight into the author's philosophy.

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