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Transportation using the Alcubierre drive is associated with blueshifted radiation at the point of arrival. Let's imagine that we're dealing with non-FTL bubbles. How effective would be arrival radiation (using automatic drones with Alcubierre drive, bubbles moving at 0.3 c) in evaporating ice on the planet to "dig" a big hole in the 4-kilometer ice shield with ocean under it compared to more conventional means? Is there any danger of radiation poisoning of the planet's water?

Also: what is the other best possible ways to overcome masses of ice for establishing relatively big oceanic base under the ice crust?

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You can do better than radiation!

Moving ice by melting it with the radiation emitted from a decelerating Alcubierre bubble is like moving ice by melting it with the exhaust from your diesel excavator. You have a bent space bubble at your disposal! That will move your ice just fine.

The bent space created by an ALcubierre bubble scoops up photons as it "moves" and these are the ones shot out the front when the bubble decelerates. More detail here:
Using warp bubble of Alcubierre drive as a deflector shield?

In addition to photons, the bubble also scoops up mass in the way and shoots it out the same way. In typical space applications these are considered more or less cosmic rays - ions and atoms moving at near the speed of light and emitted along with the blueshifted photons.

The demolition applications of an Alcubierre bubble have not gotten the consideration they deserve. Ice is mass. I proposed that instead of pussyfooting around with some measley gamma rays, you drive your bubble down into the atmosphere and into the ice, stopping when you are in the other side. Atoms and molecules and pieces of ice which have entered your bubble of altered space will be scooped into the bubble and later emitted from the front into the underlying ocean.

The Alcubierre bubble compacts space which is how it achieves its end of "motion". Matter is a legitimate occupant of space. It gets compacted too as it enters the bubble. How exactly that effect changes the interface between compacted and noncompacted matter is an interesting thing to contemplate. People with such a drive will have some idea because they will be able to examine items that enter the bubble (are they still rocks? Atoms? Quarks?) and also these items when they exit the bubble.


I picture the part of the story where it is proposed that the ice be broken with particle beams and nukes. The Alcubierre engineer looks up from her 4d sudoku and waggles a hand dismissvely. "Nukes, schmukes," she says. "I'll break you some ice."

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  • $\begingroup$ My only worry here is that the field would create a big swath of matter undergoing simultaneous fusion, which could be a hazard for the vessel. I wonder if the vessel could be run parallel to the ice sheet like a carpenter's plane tool, drawing off layers of ice and then hurling the collected ice away when the vessel brakes. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Jun 27, 2022 at 3:27
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Not very

I would guess "not very effective" since it seems like most radiation falls off with the square of the distance, in addition to additional dampening by any intervening atmosphere.

Radiation is necessarily an extremely short-range weapon, and spacecraft typically travel hundreds of thousands of miles (at a minimum) above the surface of planets. Unless your craft is absolutely gargantuan -- like, planetoid-sized -- I would not expect any of that radiation to reach the ice.

If people with an Alcubierre drive want to remove a large amount of ice, I'd imagine it would be a lot easier for them to use some of their exotic matter to create a perpetual-motion generator to power a network of roving space heaters to reshape the ice sheet.

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Ineffective

I believe the massive release of radiation on arrival does not occur for subluminal Alcubierre bubbles. See this answer.

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