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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