Proposal For An Expedition To HD 38283 b To Be Funded By The Gates Foundation – UPDATED


It’s so much fun being a Geek. My phone beeps. One of my apps wants to tell me that they’ve just found a new planet. It’s only 123 Light Years away, it’s in the habitable zone, and while it’s Saturn sized, it could have habitable moons…

The Report

If you want to read the full report, it’s available from The Astrophysical Journal and is titled THE ANGLO-AUSTRALIAN PLANET SEARCH. XXI. A GAS-GIANT PLANET IN A ONE YEAR ORBIT AND THE HABITABILITY OF GAS-GIANT SATELLITES.

Bit of a mouthful, but the names of most papers usually are. This isn’t an Open Access journal, so there is a cost to download. But what is it? It says the cost to download it is $9.00, but is that Australian, American, Hong Kong, Canadian, or Lunar dollars? They don’t say.

There is however an excerpt covers the general details that most people will want to know:

We have detected the Doppler signature of a gas-giant exoplanet orbiting the star HD 38283, in an eccentric orbit with a period of almost exactly one year (P = 363.2 ± 1.6 d, m sin i = 0.34 ± 0.02 M Jup, e = 0.41 ± 0.16). The detection of a planet with period very close to one year critically relied on year-round observation of this circumpolar star. Discovering a planet in a 1 AU orbit around a G dwarf star has prompted us to look more closely at the question of the habitability of the satellites of such planets. Regular satellites orbit all the giant planets in our solar system, suggesting that their formation is a natural by-product of the planet formation process. There is no reason for exomoon formation not to be similarly likely in exoplanetary systems. Moreover, our current understanding of that formation process does not preclude satellite formation in systems where gas giants undergo migration from their formation locations into the terrestrial planet habitable zone. Indeed, regular satellite formation and Type II migration are both linked to the clearing of a gap in the protoplanetary disk by a planet, and so may be inextricably linked. Migration would also multiply the chances of capturing both irregular satellites and Trojan companions sufficiently massive to be habitable. The habitability of such exomoons and exo-Trojans will critically depend on their mass, whether or not they host a magnetosphere, and (for the exomoon case) their orbital radius around the host exoplanet.

Neat, isn’t it? And we can go there.

Believe It Or Not We Have The Technology

Seriously. We’ve had it for years. Parts of it were developed by the Hitler regime for World War 2, and expanded upon for by the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. for the Space Race. Part of it was developed by academics such as Gerard K. O’Neil, Freeman Dyson, and Stanislaw Ulam. Part of it was developed by Science Fiction writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, and Hal Clement.

But the point is that technologically we could have safely launched such an expedition any time in the last twenty-five years, and probably done it ten years before. The only difference between then and now is that the equipment would be lighter, and more efficient. And costs have dropped. Elon Musk‘s SpaceX is currently disrupting the Earth to Orbit market the way he disrupted the money exchange market with Paypal.

The technology exists. The money exists. The Gates Foundation has it. The United States economy needs a kick start (which would end up benefiting the entire world due to the network effect). What’s not to like?

The Crew

Then we come to the fun part. Crew selection. People will be fighting in the streets for a chance to go along! I mean who wouldn’t. It will be the voyage of the century. Several centuries actually, the journey will have to be at sub-light speeds, since we haven’t yet worked out any way around the limits that Einstein‘s Theory of Relativity suggest exist. There’s also the issue of Dark Matter. This could limit theoretical top speeds.

However if enough raw materials were taken on the ship, future discoveries made on Earth could be communicated to the voyageurs by message laser, enabling them to rebuild their space drive en route for greater speed and efficiency.

I have drawn up a list of candidates, ordered by last name, and giving their current employment. I would of course suggest that they take their families with them, since the length of the voyage would otherwise force upon them separations of unconscionable length.

I’ve come up with a list of exceptionally talented people, covering many disciplines. You’ll note that I’ve leaned heavily on the entertainment industry. Consider the length of the voyage. Entertainment will be a premium for the voyageurs. Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments, as I’ve no doubt missed many worthy candidates:

Garry Ball – Sony Music Canada

Steve Ballmer – Microsoft

Josh Bednar – Sony Music Canada

Tony Blair – Ex-Politician

Curtis Blakely – Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency

Richard A. Bolandz – unIxs

Rob Bolton – Warner Music Canada

Jonathon Box – Universal Music Canada

Reg Broughton – The Internet Marketing Company

Gordon Brown – Ex-Politician

Ken Brown – The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

George W. Bush – Ex-Politician

David Cameron – Politician

Nicki Clegg – Politician

Alexis Chubb – Audio-Video Licensing Agency

Bill Clinton – Ex-Politician

Steve Coady – Warner Music Canada

Cathy Craig – Warner Music Canada

Gilles Duceppe – Member of Canadian Parliament

Dawn Dwyer-Pappas – Sony Music Canada

Jenn Edgar – Sony Music Canada

Larry Ellison – Oracle

Robert Enderle – Enderle Group

Gregory Fossedal – The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

Frank Frelih – Warner Music Canada

James Gannon – McCarthy Tétrault

Bill Gates – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Al Gore – Ex-Politician

Geir Haarde – Ex-Politician

Ivar Hamilton – Universal Music Canada

Jennifer Hardy – Canadian Recording Industry Association

Nathan Harland – EMI Canada

Stephen Harper – Member of Canadian Parliament

Graham Henderson – Canadian Recording Industry Association

Don Hogarth – Canadian Recording Industry Association

Mhari Holmer – Sony Music Canada

Jeff Hunsaker – The SCO Group

Michael Ignatief – Member of Canadian Parliament

Nicki Iskander – Universal Music Canada

Mary Jelley – Warner Music Canada

Steve Kane – Warner Music Canada

Susan Karches – Waterfall TALF Opportunity

Jack Layton – Member of Canadian Parliament

Eric le Blan – unIxs

Michael Lynton – Sony Pictures

Dan Lyons – Newsweek

Heather MacKenzie – Universal Music Canada

Darl McBride – Me Inc.

Tina McCulloch – Sony Music Canada

Christy Mack – Waterfall TALF Opportunity

Charlie Millar – Warner Music Canada

Chris Moncada – Warner Music Canada

Florian Müller or Florian Mueller – SWM Software Marketing

Russel Nagle – Sony Music Canada

Alfred E. Neuman – Time Warner Communications – Nominated as Captain for his superior organizational skills.

Ken Nielsen – The SCO Group

Janis Nixon – Universal Music Canada

Stephen Norris – Stephen Norris Capital Partners

Maureen O’Gara – Client Server News

Barack Obama – Politician

Davíð Oddsson – Ex-Banker

Richard Owens – Stikeman Elliot LLP

Sarah Palin – Ex-Politician

J.D. Parent – Sony Music Canada

Jackie Rae – Sony Music Canada

Sharon Ramsahai – Sony Music Canada

Peter Randy – Audio-Video Licensing Agency

Victoria Shepard – Audio-Video Licensing Agency

Attlia Somogyi – Universal Music Canada

Barry Sookman – McCarthy Tétrault

Dave Stelling – Warner Music Canada

Blake Stowell – Omniture Inc.

Tony Tarleton – EMI Music Canada

Steve Teixeira – Universal Music Canada

Amy Terrill – Canadian Recording Industry Association

Jeff Thistle – EMI Music Canada

Marni Thornton – Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada

Ryan Tibbitts

Darlene Tonelli – Universal Music Canada

Preeti Torul – Universal Music Canada

Monique Villanti – Universal Music Canada

Ralph Yarro – The SCO Group

Hey, you can nominate yourself even. It would be the voyage of a lifetime. Several lifetimes.


Wayne Borean

Wednesday April 13, 2011



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