Swarms of robots
December 10, 2012
Explore the near universe with a swarm of robots and the further out universe with a swarm of telescopes. To do this in an economical way, the international community in private-public partnerships needs to develop a modular family of robots which can be routinely built at reduced cost obtained through mass production and then configured to their specific missions. The same goes for telescopes; leverage the development cost and reduce production cost by building multiple copies of the same design. Then multiple teams of astronomers can observe more objects in space for more hours than ever and the diversity of ideas and projects will lead to new, unexpected and spectacular insights about our universe. To routinely launch multiple robots and telescopes, we also need a new reliable and economical launch solution. In parallel to the the family of robots and telescopes, the optimal standardized launch technology should be developed. It is not necessary to chose an evolutionary development path. Disrupting technologies if promising should be investigated. We have time, the universe will still be around tomorrow. Refrain from singular expensive missions which exhaust all our resources and concentrate on the development of industrial solutions ready for mass production. The number of robots we can build will still be small in comparison to the number of the worlds to explore around us! Even if it sound paradoxical: I propose to diversify the research into space by drastically increasing the number of missions through the use of standardized robots and launch vehicles and the diversity of new knowledge will be stunning and rewarding.
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Funding is critical. The more we have, the more effective we can be, translating into more missions, more science, and more exploration.