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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

Solar System Escape Architecture for Revolutionary Science (SSEARS)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

A fuller understanding of the Heliopause would require in-situ measurements at various points in the Heliopause, which is impractical for current propulsion methods and mission timelines. We will design a mission architecture that makes this scenario realistic from both a cruise time and mission cost perspective by using solar sail-enabled trajectories and designing a probe that can be manufactured by industry.

The Voyager Spacecraft have reached the Heliopause and greatly improved our understanding of the region. This journey took 35 years. A fuller understanding of the Heliopause would require in-situ measurements at various points in the Heliopause, which is impractical for current propulsion methods and mission timelines. Further, the solar system plane is inclined above the galactic plane by ~60°, doubling the science targets (six cardinal directions in both reference frames.) A total of 10-12 probes will be needed to explore the heliopause along both frames of reference and truly understand the 3d structure of the region. We will design a mission architecture that makes this scenario realistic from both a cruise time and mission cost perspective by using solar sail-enabled trajectories and designing a probe that can be manufactured by industry.

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