Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
See website for details.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



Atmosphere-going sailing ship

A ship that sails on top of the atmosphere using a space sail to catch the solar wind
  (+12, -9)
(+12, -9)
  [vote for,

Instead of sailing on top of the water by catching moving air currents, why not sail on top of the air by catching moving space currents? I guess this would have to be pretty far out in the future but, when we get the materials, couldn't we build a sailing ship that sailed on top of the atmosphere using solar wind power? I guess it would have to use a boat material strong and light enough to make a boat that wouldn't sink into the atmosphere, and a solar sail material capable of making a big enough sail to catch enough solar wind to move the boat over the surface of the atmosphere. I don't know what this would be good for, maybe some application for which you didn't want something to be actually in orbit -- going fast, but just sort of sailing around up there ontop of the atmosphere blue. Peripherally, I wonder if the atmosphere has waves and tides like the sea?

If there was some way to visualize the turbulence on the top of the atmosphere, from a ship like this, it might be possible to surf it very efficiently, since the turbulent whorls would be moving much more slowly than the turbulence in water. Maybe you could use just human power to propell yourself up and down the gigantic vortical features by using a (meditatively slow) click- clacking motion.

JesusHChrist, Apr 01 2005

Atmosphere as ocean http://www.sciamdig...11-8B05-7F0B6DEA107
Paul Neher's instrumentation for measuring atmospheric tsunami [csea, Apr 07 2005]


       Jesus H Christ this is confused!
ldischler, Apr 01 2005

       OK I cleaned it up, does that make more sense?
JesusHChrist, Apr 01 2005

       To float on the atmosphere, you could make a ship out of hollowed out airgel and then fill it with vacuum.   

       Yes, the atmosphere does have tides and waves. Around here, we call it the wind.
neelandan, Apr 01 2005

       I really love the idea of this...
po, Apr 01 2005

       Bad science, but a charming image. Like an old SF cover—silver rocket ships with masts and sails grafted on top, pirate ships sailing the atmospheric ocean...
ldischler, Apr 01 2005

       This gave me some nice pictures in my mind.
zeno, Apr 01 2005

st3f, Apr 01 2005

       It's a very pretty image - if rather familiar from many sf book covers. These things would have to be awfully big, though: the keel would be in atmosphere, and the sails would have to extend outside the Earth's magnetic field in order to properly catch the solar wind without getting ripped apart.
moomintroll, Apr 01 2005

       Perhaps very long carbon nanotubes connecting the atmosphere-connected keel to the solar wind-exposed sail? I'm picturing something more like kiteboarding than sailing.
Worldgineer, Apr 01 2005

       //meniscal// It's worth looking up.
If I correctly comprehend, You cannot surf on the atmosphere's border for the same reason that should you line up everyone on earth by order of height, You could not distinguish a difference of height within your viewing range.
Zimmy, Apr 07 2005

       unless they were all standing on different sized boxes in order to get a better look.
po, Apr 07 2005

       Lacking a meniscus suitable for defining "atmospheric level," perhaps the atmoshere-cruising vessel should be thought as a "substratos" vessel, like a submarine.   

       For visualizing atmospheric waves, see [link]
csea, Apr 07 2005

       I've never seen a submarine with sails, though.
moomintroll, Apr 07 2005

       Well, that's what baking is all about, [moomintrool].
daseva, Apr 07 2005

       Great for a poetic, illustrated children's story along the lines of The Little Prince, but not something that the major airlines should start investigating soon. Even if there was a thin demarcation between atmosphere and space that a lighter than air ship could float upon, (the atmosphere tapers off the further out you go as UnaBubba points out) the amount of pressure exerted on a solar sail, even of immense size wouldn't be enough to overcome the friction of the ship floating on air enough to make it move to any useful extent. The way solar sails work (theoretically) is through very slight pressure being imparted upon the sail causing a cumulative build up of speed over a period of time. It works because there's no atmospheric friction to overcome in space. Also, unless the sail was traveling at orbital velocity, not matter how light it is, it would be pulled back down to earth by gravity unless the ship was holding it up with some kind of mast long enough to keep it out of the atmosphere which sounds pretty heavy. I don't think there's even enough pressure from the solar radiation to keep a properly angled sail aloft within the Earth's gravitational pull. If there were, you could float satellites in space on solar sails without having to boost them at the necessary 17 thousand miles per hour plus necessary for orbit. And if I'm wrong about that, I've just accidentally come up with the biggest revolution in satellite technology since A.C. Clark. (I don't think so) But still, conjures up a pretty picture.
doctorremulac3, May 21 2005

       The earth's magnetic field, the van allen belt, protects us from solar winds. except for the poles, most solar winds don't reach the atmosphere.
the great unknown, Jun 06 2006

       You could always use the Ion wind instead, pushing against a magnetic field.
Selky, Aug 18 2009

       I like it. A normal boat has an atmosphere filled hull to displace water. Atmosphere gets thinner as you go higher so, I think you'd need a deep hull. They currently don't have materials which can make vacuum boyancy possible, but when they do, here's an application: - A ship which is so deep it touches the ground and is "anchored" - so you can climb the boat to get into space.
toadth, Sep 13 2009


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle