Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Idea for a science fiction book

Humans finally discover intelligent alien life, which makes us reconsider all our scientific theories again. for instance, comet Hartley:

This comet was originally thought to be this shape due to random collisions and other natural forces. The two ends show a lot of evidence  of minor impacts causing craters of various sizes. The middle part shows no signs of such weathering - appears smooth, has an oval or circular cross-section and shows no outgassing activity. Scientists originally concluded that the middle section only looks smooth because of dust re-depositing onto the centre of gravity of the comet. The jets appear random, though measurements from Earth indicate that the jets affect the rate of rotation of Hartley. To me it would be a better science fiction story if the two sides are moving apart and the centrifugal forces of the rotation are causing the middle to stretch, and the jets are controlling the rate of rotation.

Speaking of Jets, Scientists are quite sure the jets are due to sub-surface sublimation of volatiles (water, HCN etc.) forcing out dust particles at the same time. Surfaces appear quite stable, and the jets are in static positions on the comet nucleus.

The following link for comet temple 1 demonstrates how jets on the same location of the comet sporadically ejects a sudden large amount of mass, at the same point of its 44 hour rotation period - ie. in the same direction in space. Scientists believe this is due to the uneven solar related heating related to the rotation somehow causing the random outburst. It would be a better science fiction story if these jets were an orbit correction maneuvre.

Comets are notoriously hard to predict in the long term due to their Non-gravitational accelerations. Adjusting for the parameters helps a little bit, but it would be a much better science fiction story if the comet was actively controlling the accelerator, to go from gravity assist to gravity assist to make sure it didn't hit a planet in the future, or to control how it is going to hit a planet in the future to better colonise it. Perhaps, rather than hitting one spot on the planet, multiply into several pieces landing on different times of the planet's day to get a good spread over all longitudes, like Comet Shoemaker Levy 9.

Scientific theory holds that many comets are loosely connected pieces given the long List of comet pairs and other splitting events that have been shown to occur.

It would be a much better science fiction story if these events were like amoebal fission - ie. that comets were reproducing. They may have been around for many millions of years, accreting mass through collisions. Now they have enough energy and mass that they can reproduce and go their separate ways - perhaps one might one day leave the solar system and explore other systems.

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