37

Important things to remember about orbital mechanics: not all orbits are equally useful where less useful orbits intersect more useful ones, the less useful ones will not be used changing the plane of an orbit requires a lot of energy What this means is that surprisingly big chunks of sky will not have much debris in them... especially directly over the ...


28

Refine as much as possible on the asteriod. Keep your as much of your refinering chain as close as possible to your mining operation, moving 1kg of high grade ore vs 1kg of low grade ore requires the same energy cost. My employer makes software for optimising this process for terrestrial mines and the change in ROI you can get from subtle plant movements is ...


14

This paper talks about combustion It is the fact that combustion properties of large-scale crude oil pool fire have great significance for security design and firefighting of current crude oil reserves. Burning rate, the flame shape and radiation intensity are the most important parameters for fires properties. And this is an image of a fire on an oil ...


14

Time for a bit of a frame challenge. You've just provided a great case for an orbital elevator! See here if you aren't already familiar with the concept. As I understand it the main limitation we have now that prevents this concept from becoming reality lies in the construction materials we have available. A flourishing asteroid mining industry would provide ...


9

Probes! Yeh, Fish suggested this in the comments. But here is a sweet image! This close-up view of the icy surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, was obtained on Dec. 20, 1996, by the Solid State Imaging system on board the Galileo spacecraft during its fourth orbit around Jupiter. The view is about 7 miles by 10 miles (11 kilometers by 16 kilometers) and ...


9

Without offering any proof for my assertions... Electromagnetic emissions that don't belong. Should your aliens use EM transmissions (optical or radiometric), then it's possible to detect them here on Earth using current tech. After all, we're still detecting both Voyagers, and they're a honking lot further away than Europa. Heat. This one is a little less ...


8

It looks like most of the major issues once you've taken care of the basic strength and toughness (and you've mentioned muscles and bones, but don't forget tendons and ligaments and skin too!) are blood pressure ones. The heart would need to be stronger to be able to continue pumping blood against sustained high g-forces. A mechananism would be require to ...


8

Less volatile hydrocarbons = less flammability Imagine you decide to pour a puddle of gasoline and light it. It burns merrily and you dance around it in your typical frenzied manner. Once it is gone you pour another puddle, but fatigue claims you. You go inside, resolved to come out, light the puddle and dance in the morning. In the morning (after your ...


7

They can fire very powerful lasers to the sky, either from ground bases or from air carried systems: some of the targets will simply be vaporized by the beam, some other will get a jolt which would alter their orbit, resulting in an increased drop rate. Rinse and repeat.


7

Very long days and nights lead, as you state, to extreme temperature differences. I see two alternatives here for life: Continuous migration, to stay on the side of the planet which is either between dawn and noon or noon and sunset Adaptation of their biological cycles so that they thrive from dawn to about 1/3 of the light period, then estivate for ...


7

This is what Hubble can see from Europa, as published by NASA This composite image shows suspected plumes of water vapor erupting at the 7 o’clock position off the limb of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The plumes, photographed by NASA’s Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, were seen in silhouette as the moon passed in front of Jupiter. Hubble’s ...


7

Steerable cargo parachutes sent to multiple landing sites First, as noted in the comments - any system that involves frequent large masses of material arriving from space and then descending to Earth has the potential to be weaponised. So, assume that there are defence systems and traffic control to mitigate any risks or there is no way to get useful ...


6

Not possible realistically Not possible without handwavium. Nothing moves faster than light and the closest star to us is four and a half years at the speed of light. You need hyperspace, FTL travel, wormholes or something equally weird and wonderful like travelling on a multiverse fungus network like the new Star Trek....


6

Having lit quite a number of petroleum pools on fire for training purposes to teach people how to put such a fire out, no, it will not explode. The vapour at the top will burn, heating and vaporizing the fuel below which will likewise burn when it reaches oxygen, until such time as the pool is burned away. The only way to cause said pool to explode would be ...


6

Regarding, "... would it be more likely picked up by someone with a (big) telescope in their back yard?", the Hubble Space Telescope is among the highest resolution telescopes in existence. According to https://hubblesite.org/contents/media/images/2009/12/2508-Image.html, "Hubble can see details as small as 190 miles (300 km) across on Saturn....


6

It could be cut, but it would be hard to cut deeply unless you were lucky and got between the metal plates. It could be punctured with a spear or arrow. It would be hard to puncture deeply unless you were lucky and got between the metal plates. Nunchucks and other less common weapons using blunt force would work about the same as on a human. Shockwaves ...


5

Intelligent life devolves Start with an alien race: They get really smart. Builds wormhole tech (think "Stargate" but without the fixed ring) (Or "Portal" where the second portal opens to the place you're thinking about. Rick and Morty without the handheld gun). Since they're smarter than us they're able to achieve it within the laws of ...


5

Methane. Methane flame is blue, and methane is very easily produced by several biologic processes that might take place in the dragon's gut. You start with a grisou-belching reptile. Then it acquires flame bombing capabilities, because if it clicks its teeth just so while belching, the toroid of explosive gas will detonate at a safe-ish distance from the ...


5

Carbon Monoxide: What makes carbon monoxide dangerous is that it has a higher affinity for iron in hemogoblin than oxygen (aka the blood of animals such as mammals and reptiles). But not all animals use iron as the oxygen carrier in their blood. Insects, for example require carbon monoxide levels in excess of 50% for toxicity and some species require carbon ...


5

Two main ways: Lasers fired from the ground. By slightly applying thrust to each chunk via lasers fired from the ground the orbits can be tweaked. Eventually causing the chunks to burn up in the atmosphere. Tiny robots that know orbital mechanics. If your robots can get to one chunk and there are lots of other chunks to choose from, the robot can pick a ...


5

Costs Below some price it wouldn't be worth it. Some costs beyond normal earth production. Extraction and processing in space. Costs of packaging for drop: ablative material, parachutes, forming. Retrieving dropped material: if dropping in Sahara or other remote locations it will cost personnel, retrieval equipment etc. Costs of any property damage, Finders ...


5

Mining of asteroids is a successful venture in the future. However much of the resulting mineral yield is required on Earth and the problem is delivery. Why would you think that? There's not much out there that we can't find right here on Earth, in greater quantities, at lower cost. The real need for mining operations in space, is to support the space ...


5

Frame challenge: it is impossible to prevent the creation of propellants without radically altering chemistry itself. Even table sugar (sucrose) can be used as a propellant with an appropriate oxidizer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_candy Frame challenge #2: High explosives can be used as propellant either by modifying the combustion rate, e.g. by ...


4

Make your universe a virtual reality in which everything which your characters perceive is really an illusion generated by brilliant programmers long ago. Then allow that the code responsible for the creatures has a bug in it which periodically (and randomly) recalculates their spatial position (and the positions of everyone riding on the creatures) to ...


4

Yeah this is a stretch, but it's all I've got... Your dragon burps Chlorine gas, and has half a knight caught in it's mouth. Years ago a knight attacked the dragon, and while the dragon ultimately won, the knights copper chainmail armour got caught in the dragon's teeth, the copper is stuck in the dragon's mouth and has been for considerable time. The dragon ...


4

Thaw-zone scavengers. These could be large, perhaps quadrupedal, with a nice thick layer of fat. They'd range the newly thawing frontier, not needing to move quickly but perhaps with front feet adapted for digging snow/shoveling slush. These might just be the longest-lived creatures. They would also require sensitive noses (or equivalent) to detect the smell ...


4

Life evolves near the poles The effect of the sun is proportional to the angle that the sun intersects the surface, so near the poles, the effect of the sun is minimal, day and night are roughly the same temperature. Carbon based life as we know can live in this temperature. Look at anything living in arctic latitudes here. They would evolve in the cold and ...


4

Yes, but it would take time and money. If you do that they could easily be the safest form of air transport in the world. When talking about Airships people assume they are soft, flammable/explosive, slow, can't handle any wind and crash if you look at them funny. You can see this in any question about airships on this site for example. It goes so far that ...


4

Use an asteroid as a vacuum cleaner That asteroid those colonists where slowly maneuvering into orbit around the planet so they could mine it, they decide instead to put it into a high eccentricity orbit around the planet. As the asteroid goes barreling through the debris field fun things start happening. There will be a minor benefit from some debris ...


4

A Few thoughts: Unfortunately, a sea of sugar isn't very likely. Sugar would give water osmotic pressure like salt, but sugar is a high-energy molecule that would be a product from a living creature. The sea would represent a HUGE amount of metabolic effort to produce, and a huge amount to protect from things eating it (it's a virtual witch's candy house). ...


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