Tests of Fundamental Physics in Interstellar Flight

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R. Kezerashvili (2018), JBIS, 71, pp.306-310

Refcode: 2018.71.306
Keywords: General Relativity, Poynting–Robertson effect, Solar sail

We have considered general relativity (GR) effects related to the curved spacetime and frame dragging on long range trajectories of solar sails. Results prove that small deviations in the initial trajectories of solar sails that are deployed near the Sun can translate to large effects in the long run. It is shown that the Poynting–Robertson effect dominates over other special relativistic effects and decreases the cruising velocity as well as the Heliocentric distance. It is demonstrated that if a solar sailcraft can be used to test fundamental physics related to GR – particularly, the deflections of escape trajectories as the result of the curvature of spacetime and frame dragging in the vicinity of the Sun – then the most interesting orbits are those that are closer to the Sun.

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