NASA wants to use the Sun to power future deep space missions

While other spacecraft like Lucy used solar energy to operate their equipment, Pushke was one of NASA’s first deep space missions, using solar energy for both inboard operation and propulsion.

Paulo Rosano, director of the MIT Space Propulsion Institute, says Pushke can lay the foundation for more solar-powered space exploration. Ultimately, this technology will help long-term exploration of multiple celestial bodies and may make human-boarding missions outside the Earth’s orbit more affordable.

β€œIt actually opens up the possibility of exploring and commercializing the universe in ways we have never seen before,” says Rosano.

Spacecraft that use solar electric propulsion require less propellant than chemically powered, so they carry more space for cargo, scientific equipment, and eventually astronauts. I am. A company, Accion Systems, is developing more efficient ion thrusters for larger satellites and other spacecraft, not just Cubesat.

Solar propulsion technology, which is already common in satellites orbiting the Earth, has not been a powerful alternative to the chemical-powered engines often used on spacecraft heading into deep space. Advances in solar electric propulsion will change that.

The technology behind Psyche has undergone the first major tests on the Dawn, an exploration spacecraft that uses solar power and ion thrusters. In 2018, three years after the mission was to end, the dawn eventually silenced while orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres, which remains in orbit for decades. These thrusters can operate for years without running out of fuel, but provide relatively low thrust compared to traditional propulsion.

The Psyche thruster can generate three times the thrust of its predecessor, and about a year after its launch, it will change its orbit with the help of Martian gravitational pull and eventually reach its target in 2026. ..

NASA wants to use the Sun to power future deep space missions

Source link NASA wants to use the Sun to power future deep space missions

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