Status: Under Study
Launch Date: As early as 2010, pending further development of solar sail technology.
Mission Summary: The Interstella Probe will cross the solar wind "termination shock" and heliopause and make significant penetration into the local interstellar medium, characterizing the regions it passes. This mission offers a large technological challenge, as it requires a spacecraft that can travel 10 AU per year using a 200 meter solar sail. Current mission requirements call for data from at least 200 AU away from the Sun, with a goal of ~400 AU.
The main science goals of this mission are as follows:
- Explore the nature of the interstellar medium and its implications for the origin and evolution of matter in our Galaxy and the universe
- Explore the influence of the interstellar medium on the solar system, its dynamics, and its evolution.
- Explore the impact of the solar system on the interstellar medium as an example of the interaction of a stellar system with its environment.
- Explore the outer solar system in search of clues to its origin and to the nature of other planetary systems.
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