Harvesting Antimatter

From Centauri Dreams :

Forward saw the antimatter problem as a matter of scaling and cost (and he often talked about ’small problems of engineering’). As we’ve seen in the last few days, James Bickford (Draper Laboratory) is more than aware of both these issues, but unlike Forward, he’s keen on mining naturally occurring sources of antimatter right here in the Solar System. Forward’s huge factories may some day be built, but for now, let’s talk about how to get our early antimatter missions into the realm of possibility by learning how to cull the needed antimatter, if only in the minute quantities that would kick a payload up to 100 kilometers per second. Along the way, we establish the expertise to go further.

I have posted a few threads about antimatter being the absolute energy source needed for Outer Solar System, Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud and eventually interstellar exploration. Nanogram for nanogram, you get the most bang for your buck using antimatter. Nothing else even comes close.

That said, antimatter is extremely difficult to manufacture and store. Using present technology, antimatter currently is produced in particle accelerators and can only be stored in non-material electromagnetic storage containers called “Penning Traps”. The amount produced is abysmally small, not even nanogram amounts.

Enter Dr. James Bickford. His proposal is to collect naturally occurring antimatter using a plasma magnet to form an electromagnetic scoop to guide the particles into a Penning Trap storage container. Apparently, antimatter particles form “…in the planet’s radiation belt as they, obeying the Lorentz force, bounce back and forth between their mirror points in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The antiproton belt our spacecraft is tapping is analogous to the protons in the Van Allen radiation belt, and provides a close to home source of antimatter before we look out into the Solar System, where we find further stores especially around Saturn…”.

You learn something new every day. I didn’t know antimatter naturally forms in the environment! This is very fortuitous indeed.

All Dr. Bickford needs now is the money and political will to do this. Interesting that this discovery is happening now that a new, stealthy Space Race is coming to the fore.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Centauri Dreams: Part I http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=1567

Centauri Dreams: Part II http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=1569

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10 responses

  1. I didn’t know antimatter forms naturally in the environment either.

    You know, there are so many many amazingly intelligent men and women out there, yet it’s stunning how few of them ever make it into government, where ideas such as this one, could benefit from Federal deep pockets and possibly change the course of human history.

    Instead, government attracts idiots and cretins like Bush, Cheney, Rice, Pelosi and Reid.

  2. A spacecraft utilizing a modified Bussard ramjet plasma magnet to scoop up the antimatter particles to power a catalyzed fission-fusion nuclear engine has been proposed and an “antimatter sail” for exploring the Oort Cloud and outer reaches to get to the solar maximum in order to take advantage of the gravitational lensing effect to look for Earth-type planets.

    http://www.hbartech.com/niac_sail1_final.pdf
    http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg19526201.900-engage-the-antimatter-drive.html

  3. This would be great if the U.S. funds this project, but I’m not holding my breath.

    You’re most definitely right about our politicians, their collective backsides are stuck in the McCarthy era.

    Well, if we don’t, China, Japan or India will. Maybe even the Russians if they can get funding.

    Too bad these countries have rotten human rights records (except maybe for modern Japan).

    Sheep for mutton are we.

  4. When we reach the level of antimatter, then we can call ourselfs an advanced technical race 🙂
    Unfortunately, we have not one advence since 5 years(or more) with antimatter storage issue. Every month I read the same – poor storage system! Only 1 week storage of antiprotons! 😡
    Isn’t the science going forward?
    The microchips are advancing every month, antimatter problem hasn’t change since decades, and don’t tell me about funding. The problem is somewhere else…

  5. Oh I’m sure the technology is being censored, for the same reason we still have old crappy chemical rockets for space probes. It doesn’t serve the elites interests to have advanced energy storage systems.

    Somehow, having super-advanced computers does…hmmm…

  6. The answer again is OIL 😡
    What guarantee do we have that when oil is exhausted, they won’t begin again with methane? If this happens, we will not leave Earth in the next 100 years or more 😡 😡 😡

  7. Well, if it’s any consolation for you, read this:

    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/11/the-end-of-oil.html#more

    Maybe there’s hope?

  8. The so called “alternatives” to oil are derivative to oil.
    http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

    Why is the theme antigravity a taboo?
    Why is the term free energy a taboo too?
    This things are proven more than 50 years ago.

    dad, if nobody launch a satellite in the next 10 years via antigravity or ionized wind(like Tim Ventura’s lifter), don’t expect any revolution… and most definite – don’t expect colonizing the solar system in the next 50 years.
    I’ts tragic, really 😦

  9. United States could achieve Energy Independence in 15 years. 200 kilograms of Mirror Matter/antimatter could replace 1 billion tons of coal, 4 billion barrels of oil (11 million barrels per day), and 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Carbon dioxide levels can be reduced by 3.8 billion tons per year or over fifty percent. For more informaiton, please http://www.EnergyUSA.net

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