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February 20, 2011
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Approaching Enceladus by SMPritchard Approaching Enceladus by SMPritchard
Taken from a work-in-progress short story of mine.

An Earth-Saturn/Titan shuttle passing rather close to Enceladus, an icy outer moon of Saturn, in a kind of reverse-gravity boost to slow down somewhat before reaching it's intended target, Titan. A lander will dock with it from one of the surface settlements and ferry the crew of 6 and their cargo down to the surface. The craft took just under a year to make the journey, owing to it's powerful fusion drive and the optimal position of Saturn in it's orbit with respect to Earth. If you look carefully, you can just make out the very faint cherry-red glow on the massive radiator fins. This is a critical component that many an SF spacecraft seem to lack. Without them, the crew ad electronics would fry from the heat generated from the drive, the powerplant, the crew and their activities, and pretty much anything that occurs on the craft. So the heat is pulled away from the critical areas with coolant pipes and out to the radiators away from anything important, where it will slowly leak into space. Protecting the crew habitats on either end of the rotating arms are tanks that shield them from radiation. In addition, the entire habitat module is further shielded by a Whipple-style debris shield (multi-layered impact shield) to protect it from dust particles and micrometeors.

The background image of Enceladus is a real photo (actually a mosaic image) taken by the Cassini-Huygens probe in 2005.

The design of the craft itself is highly inspired by a NASA study of a manned mission to Jupiter or Saturn in the style of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ship was called, of course, Discovery II. The paper is here: [link]

I'm sure NASA won't mind me, I mean, "adapting" their idea a tad...
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francisdrakex Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014
I love the design for its sleek beauty! I assume the ship is that long so radiation from its drive does not ímpose too much radiation on the crew.

Just a word on the radiators. If they glow dull cherry red the coolant must be even hotter. This requires the coolant to withstand the high temperatires, so it might be liquid Sodium or comparable stuff. The disadvantage is, these coolant metals are solid at space temperatures. So you may end up with electrical heat tracing required to liquify the coolants in the pipes along the hull and to the radiators, before you can fire up the fusion drive to nominal capacity.
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2013  Professional Writer
This is very cool, I'll admit that :)

But after reading the assorted comments on this image and others like it in your gallery, I feel that I have to defend "soft" science fiction. I find that strong supporters of "hard" sci-fi tend to be, well, the only word I can think of at the moment is snobs. There's a dominant attitude in the "hard" sci-fi community that if something *isn't* hard, then it's no good. That it's not "proper" science fiction.

Bollocks. I've read plenty of "hard" sci-fi that was rubbish, just as I've read rubbish "soft" sci-fi. It all depends on the writer. And for the record, someone having a degree in science and-or engineering and a bunch of letters after their name does NOT qualify them as a skilled and talented writer. I read Ringworld for the first time recently, and it was some of the most boring, pointless junk I've ever wasted my time on. The characters were unappealing, the plot was dull as dishwater, the ending was trash. While the concept of the Ringworld itself was groundbreaking, that doesn't excuse the fact that, at the end of the day, the book was very badly written. Niven sure as hell didn't deserve an award for it.

While I agree that some "soft" spacecraft designs can be rather ridiculous, they're not all like that, not by a long shot. There are a lot of good designs out there.

As for the "hard" designs, the majority I've seen have a major overall flaw, and it's the same flaw a lot of "hard" sci-fi itself has: too shortsighted. The bulk are all based on *current* technology, which makes no sense if the story takes place centuries from now. No-one knows what kind of advances we'll make at any given time. The above vessel looks like something we could build right now (assuming someone put the money into it). As for the future, who knows? And there's the catch: too much looking at today and not enough imagination for the future.

I apologise if this offends you or anyone else, but with all the bashing of "soft" sci-fi going around, I felt I had to defend it.

I happen to love your designs and think you do very cool work :)
beltminer Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2012
majestic wonderful stuff. freeman dyson, the father of the nuclear pulse concept, thought enceladus was worth a look back in the fifties! i,m glad it has held up so long. haha. oh if only...
SMPritchard Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I agree; Enceladus definitely deserves a closer look. The water-ice gysers at the south pole are a very strong indicator of a large subsurface pocket of liquid water under the ice. And if there's a heat source powerful enough to keep it liquid for long periods of time, coupled wit the right kinds of could get something resembling life occurring there.
beltminer Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012
i don't know about the life part but it sure is an interesting little rock. i heard one of the guys at jpl say ''thats the only moon that gives out free samples''. haha.
Eduardo-Tarasca Featured By Owner May 31, 2012   Digital Artist
I love the image and the detailed technical write up explaining the science behind it all. Good point about the radiator fins, never really though about it before. :D
SMPritchard Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! Yeah, a lot of pop sci-fi tends to forget that part when they design their ridiculously huge and bulky spaceships.
bobafetthotmail Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
and the fun fact is that radiators can be adapted into something glowy (a bit) which adds to the cool factor (think Avatar) and gives you a good reason to have wings in space.
SMPritchard Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Indeed. Unfortunately, the general public probably would not understand their purpose (or importance).
bobafetthotmail Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2013
The same can be said of firearms, explosives, kinetic physics in general, and more or less any specialistic subject.

It's when you do it right and spark the curiosity of someone into it that it feels good.
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