Gram-Scale Nano-Spacecraft Entry into Star Systems

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A. A. Jackson IV (2018), JBIS, 71, pp.294-297

Refcode: 2018.71.294
Keywords: Nano-ship Trajectories, Stellarsphere Forces, Project Starshot

Breakthrough Starshot is a study to consider the concept of ultra-fast Nano-spacecraft probes towards the stellar system Alpha Centauri. These probes leave the solar system at 20% the speed of light. The beginning of the journey and the intermediate interstellar trajectory has been the subject of preliminary studies [1, 2]. Considered here is arrival at destination [3]. In Starshot it is proposed that a bundle of spacecraft be directed towards the target star with the intent that some fraction of the interceptors would make close enough flybys to take physical measurements. If active guidance, navigation and control can be realized for Nano-spacecraft it may be possible to intercept the stellar sphere of one or more stars of the Alpha Centauri system. Of interest here is interaction of an interceptor with the stellar sphere radiation forces and magnetic field of a target star. Of particular consideration is the interaction of a Nano-spacecraft with radiation pressure, Poynting-Robertson drag, Lorentz forces, stellar wind drag and Coulomb drag. Can these forces usefully modify the trajectories of spacecraft at destination? Radiation pressure has been the subject of one study [3]. The dynamics of Nano-spacecraft under the influence of radiation pressure and Poynting Roberton drag is followed by numerical integration of the equations of motion.

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