Named for physicist Freeman Dyson who first proposed the concept in 1960, a Dyson Sphere is a star virtually enclosed by surrounding civilization such that it utilized as much of its output energy as possible. Though commonly thought of as a single structure forming a solid shell, Dyson had originally proposed what is more commonly referred to today as a ‘Dyson Swarm’; a cloud of discrete habitat structures whose collective density provides virtually total capture of solar energy. A more recent variation of this concept proposed by mathematician Robert Bradbury has come to be called a Matrioshka Brain and is based on the notion of computational systems rather than habitats for organic life forming the majority of a Dyson Swarm.
In previous Solaria phase articles we’ve touched on what could easily become the basic elements of these complexes; the EcoSphere, the Sundisc, and the Solar Ribbon. The Solarian civilization will have many aspects akin to a Dyson Swarm or Matrioshka Brain clustering, initially, along the solar ecliptic plane. But when Marshal Savage discussed this concept, originally, he was referring to a specific form of energy system likely to be realized by the Solarian age. He imagined that the solar civilization would tend to organize along the solar ecliptic plane and seek to preserve the natural planets and, in particular, life on Earth, a terraformed Mars, and any other planets we manage to terraform by one means or another. Thus his proposed Dyson Sphere would to be based on a unique form of solar collector that, instead of orbiting the sun, would employ the characteristics of a solar sail to ‘float’ like a vast raft on the pressure of sunlight and solar ejecta. By doing this these solar collectors could be grouped into extremely dense tiled geometric complexes that would not be limited to travel along an orbital trajectory. Simply floating at an ‘altitude’ where the solar radiation is tolerable to their structure and systems and where solar prominences are a reduced hazard, they would congregate above and below the ecliptic, working their way north and south as these polar caps grow with time.
In TMP2 we envision these solar collectors to be based on the most sophisticated of diamondoid materials and formed largely in the manner of a plant leaf employing a cellular structure around a denser network of thin but relatively heavily shielded ‘veins’. Using NanoFoam, they would be self-constructing and self-repairing and rely on a supply of molecular material from, perhaps, collected solar ejecta as well as supply rafts that float to the edge of the solar array complex. The majority of the collector area would be a thin membrane, spreading over areas of hundreds of kilometers per unit cell, functioning as a vast phased array laser or maser that beams its energy to secondary collimator and tracking optics atop tree-like booms grown at the nodes between multiple cells. These, in turn, direct the energy continuously to constellations of solar-orbital collector stations farther out in solar system. With such a system, some 95% of the sun’s potential insolation area could be utilized for energy without impacting the 5% insolation area along the ecliptic where much of the civilization resides.
Portions of the collective array may be also used as deep space laser/maser communications arrays, modulating the sunlight into signal beams to other stars as our civilization’s colonization of the galaxy begins. The lack of orbital rotation would make it easier for these systems to continuously track other stars.
These may also have an additional role as nuclear isomer producers and anti-matter collectors. Some collector cells could be fashioned into vast gamma ray optics systems that pump nuclear isomer materials to create ‘atomic batteries’ shipped by deployable solar sail transports to the outer solar system. Similar facilities could host sophisticated sunward-facing very high power magnetic collector systems designed to filter and concentrate antiprotons from the solar ejecta. Stored in magnetic trap systems, -or possibly by other means by the time of Solaria- and shipped by solar sail as well, these would become fuel for the most advanced high-speed spacecraft employing antimatter propulsion. Eventually, this would become the fuel for starships of the initial Galactia phase.
- Life In Solaria
- Solar Snowflake - Sunflower - Sundisc - Solar Ribbon
- Solarian Spacecraft
- Solaria Supporting Technologies