The Interstellar Probe is a mission concept to study the interaction between our sun and interstellar space. This would be accomplished by sending a spacecraft out of the solar system at high speed with a suite of sensors to measure the space environment. A solar sail allows an lightweight spacecraft to perform this mission. The sail would spiral in toward the sun, then turn to sail away at high speed using the abundant sunlight. The instruments would measure the space environment from close to the sun out to interstellar space. Along the way, the mission would examine changes in the space environment that correspond to different layers created by the solar wind impacting the interstellar environment.
The mission would use a large, hexagonal, lightweight, Spin Stabilized sail for propulsion. Attitude control is achieved by separating the spacecraft bus from the sail by a bearing, so it can rotate independently. A rail would allow the spacecraft to move off of the center of pressure of the sail, creating a solar torque to tilt the sail in the desired direction.
- Liewer, P C and Mewaldt, J A and Ayon, J A and Wallace, R A. NASA's Interstellar Probe Mission. Space Technology and Application International Forum STAIF, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA , 2000. BibTeX
- Garner, Charles E and Layman, William and Gavit, Sarah A and Knowles, Timothy. A Solar Sail Design for a Mission to the Near-Interstellar Medium. Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF - 2000) , 2000. BibTeX