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SETI public: Mini interstellar probes mentioned in NYT Sunday Magazine



Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine has an article by Tim Ferris
on future developments in space exploration.  One of them mentions
small interstellar probes as the way of the future for humanity
to explore the galaxy and probably for other advanced life forms
as well.  The article also includes artwork by famous space artist
Robert McCall.

I am including the figure caption from the article in this post.
For those who want the complete article and attached images, 
feel free to ask me.

Larry


            Tiny Interstellar
            Probes 

            Giant starships of the
            "Star Trek" class may
            use warp speed to leap
            across light-years in a
            single bound -- but,
            barring a tremendous
            breakthrough, the
            business of sending big
            ships to the stars will
            remain absurdly
            expensive and
            forbiddingly slow. Tiny
            instrumented probes are
            another matter. Low in
            mass, they can be
            accelerated to high velocity in reasonably short times, and
their minuscule cargo
            of electronics -- plus, perhaps, biological materials -- can
hibernate patiently
            throughout their long journey. A cluster of smart,
grapefruit-size probes is seen
            here landing on an asteroid in an extrasolar planetary system.
Using metals mined
            from the asteroid, they set up antennas to phone home, and
fashion sensors to
            expand reconnaissance of the planetary system in which they
have arrived.
            Eventually they can make copies of the propulsion system that
took them there,
            fuel it up from indigenous materials and launch new probes on
to other stars. But if
            it's really that easy, and if there are advanced civilizations
out there, why haven't
            they already sent a probe to our solar system? The answer is
that maybe they
            have. A tiny probe, embedded in one of the billions of
asteroids orbiting the sun
            and programmed to keep itself inconspicuous, could be out there
right now, and
            we probably wouldn't know it -- not now, or in the century to
come.