An engineer from MIT proposed to examine at close distances of interstellar space objects by grouping cube-Sats with a solar sail. Under the concept, staticy will still hang over the Sun on a solar sail, and the detection of an asteroid of the Solar system one of them is unhooked and under the action of gravity will fly past him. The idea received approval for the first phase of the contest of innovative Advanced concepts NASA.
The majority of known comets and meteoroids orbiting around the Sun. But in 2017, astronomers have discovered the first ever observations of interstellar body — the asteroid Omwamwi. It is of great interest to science, since all directly studied the body previously came from the Solar system. Unfortunately, in the case of Omwamwi the study was limited to observation in telescopes for two reasons.
First, interstellar asteroids have tremendous speed in excess of a third space. Speed Omwamwi was about 25 kilometers per second, which is about five kilometers per second faster than the fastest artificial object in the history of the apparatus of the New Horizons after a gravity assist from Jupiter in 2007.
The second problem follows from the first. Even with a very fast body to approach, giving him the speed, if the time to calculate the point of possible meeting. But due to the fact that modern space missions are being prepared for years, the asteroid will be such a feasible point to start. In addition, small specific impulse of chemical rocket engines out of reach leaves large areas of the Solar system, so many potential trajectory convergence can not be implemented, even if to know about interstellar body for ten years. Omwamwi have offered to catch up on a laser sails, but, again, lack of time made the idea irrelevant.
Richard Linares (Richard Linares) from the Massachusetts Institute of technology suggested waiting for interstellar object group a priori cube-Sats with solar sails. They were launched — ultra small spacecraft the size of a few tens of centimeters. Due to standardized platforms and serial production of components, they cost several orders of magnitude cheaper than “normal” satellites. Also they were launched due to the small dimensions advantageous to launch one missile can take on Board dozens of such devices. These microsatellites are not only used for student projects, for example, a spacecraft mission NASA Mars Cube One in 2018 photographed Mars.
Each cubesat the researcher proposes to implement solar sail. The fact that light (and all electromagnetic radiation) exerts pressure on the surface. This pressure is extremely low and in the center of the Earth is about 0,000009 Newtons per square meter. However, if the sail is very large, and the mass is relatively small, then this power can be used to disperse the payload. It should be noted that for the year 2020 no spacecraft has not yet used a solar sail as the main engine, because its material should be very light, but has conducted successful experiments.