US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests using a “dynamic orbital slingshot” to get the opportunity to study interstellar objects from close range.
In other words, scientists are about to send a swarm of tiny satellites that will chase cosmic stones that have arrived from outside the solar system.
The concept of studying the interstellar object Oumuamua using the “orbital slingshot” we published in March, but now it became known that they were interested in NASA. The authors of the idea received funding through the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, so this is clearly a good signal.
Interstellar objects are increasingly interested in scientists, because they are a source of information about other stellar systems.
Having overtaken such an object and proceeding to its investigation, you can learn about another star and planets in its orbit without the fact of visiting the system itself.
“There are many fundamental problems with observing interstellar objects in the Earth – they are so small that sunlight must illuminate them in a certain way so that our telescopes can fix something,” said Richard Linares, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, as well as the author this concept.
Interstellar guests travel at tremendous speeds, so it’s hard to manage to organize a mission from Earth in time for the “tail network”. Modern motor systems are the limiting factor, so if we want to catch up with the interstellar stone, we need to find a non-standard solution.
Down with the speed limit!
Richard Linares and his team propose the use of many tiny satellites, each of which will have its own solar sail – a technology that allows the use of solar radiation as a mover.
A swarm of satellites launched from the Earth will have to use the gravitational attraction of the Sun to “shoot” itself toward such an interstellar object as, for example, Oumuamua and begin to pursue it at great speed. The accumulated energy will be enough to reduce the remaining distance and get closer to the minimum distance.
Nanosatellites will not be able to slow down and, therefore, each of them, dividing duties among themselves, will begin to immediately record and collect data.
“Satellites will have to use the“ window ”of passage past an object at a minimum distance from it. A close-up study of the interstellar body and an array of data would change our understanding of the process of formation and evolution of planets,” added Benjamin Weiss, professor of planetary sciences, who is also working on the project.
Benjamin Weiss believes that having worked out the technology of “dynamic orbital slingshot” on satellites, it will be possible to use it in the future to deliver the necessary cargo to distant corners of the solar system.
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