NEA Scout, NASA’s Solar Sail Mission to an Asteroid

Why Do We Want NEA Scout?

Photo voltaic sails are spacecraft that use giant, skinny sails to mirror daylight, giving them a delicate push and limitless gas. They’re well-suited to small, low-cost spacecraft that hitch rides to house on rockets carrying bigger missions. Because of advances in expertise miniaturization, small spacecraft are rising more and more succesful, however they’ve restricted propulsion, which frequently bounds them to the trajectories of the rockets that carry them into house. 

NEA Scout will show the power to hitch a journey to 1 vacation spot after which use a photo voltaic sail to fly some other place. The small spacecraft will initially journey to the Moon earlier than utilizing a photo voltaic sail to depart for a near-Earth asteroid. 

Asteroids, comets, and different small worlds are like time capsules which were largely unchanged because the beginning of our photo voltaic system. Pattern return missions like NASA’s OSIRIS-REx and Japan’s Hayabusa2 are revealing these worlds’ secrets and techniques, however each encountered unexpectedly rocky terrain that difficult the mission. NEA Scout will show how a low-cost photo voltaic sail spacecraft might scout an asteroid for human and robotic exploration lengthy earlier than a future mission leaves the launch pad.

NEA Scout builds on a heritage of NASA small satellite solar sails that includes Nanosail-D2, which test-deployed a photo voltaic sail in Earth orbit in 2011. The Planetary Society’s LightSail program constructed on that idea, demonstrating managed photo voltaic crusing for the primary time in Earth orbit and for the primary time with a small spacecraft. NASA and The Planetary Society collaborate and change knowledge on NEA Scout and the LightSail program by a House Act Settlement.

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