A solar sail design for a mission to the near-interstellar medium

Garner, Charles E.; Layman, William; Gavit, Sarah A.; Knowles, Timothy
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p947
Academic Journal
Mission concepts to several hundred AU are under study at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In order to send a scientific probe beyond the heliopause in a reasonable length of time—no more than 15 yr and preferably 10 yr—the ΔV requirements are approximately 70 km/s. The preliminary results of these mission studies indicate that a solar sail can provide a cumulative ΔV of over 70 km/s to send a probe to a distance of 200 AU from the Sun in under 15 years. This is done by using photon pressure on the sail to shape the trajectory in the inner solar system so that a perihelion of 0.25 AU is achieved. This paper presents the results of a design study for a solar sail to achieve the performance requirements identified in an interstellar probe (ISP) mission study to the near-interstellar medium. The baseline solar sail design for this ISP mission assumes an areal density of 1g/m2 (including film and structure), and a diameter of ∼410 m with an 11-m-wide central opening. The sail will be used from 0.25 to 5 AU, where it will be jettisoned. The total spacecraft module mass propelled by the sail is ∼191 kg. The gores of the sail are folded together and wrapped around a small cylinder. Centripetal force is used for sail deployment. The spacecraft is moved off-center with booms for sail attitude control and thrust vector pointing. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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