• Sending nano-spacecrafts to planets outside the solar system: Would it be possible?

  • Speaker : Thiem Hoang
    Affiliation : Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute
    Date : March 14, 2018 4:00 PM
    Place : Building 110 Room N103
    Contact :
    Host : Dongsu Ryu
  • Abstract

  • The Breakthrough Starshot initiative aims to launch gram-scale spacecraft to a speed of v~0.2c, capable of reaching the closest Earth-like planet beyond our solar system, Proxima b, in 20 years. However, a critical challenge for the project originates from the interactions of a relativistic spacecraft with the interstellar medium during its journey to Alpha Centauri. In this talk, I will first present our quantitative evaluation of the damage to a relativistic spacecraft by interstellar gas and dust. Second, I will discuss the deflection and oscillation of a charged spacecraft due to the interstellar magnetic field. Third, I will discuss the gas drag force at high energy regime and quantify its effect on the deceleration of a relativistic lightsail.
    Finally, we will discuss practical strategies to mitigate the impacts of the interstellar medium, 
    and to control the spacecraft attitude in order for the spacecraft to reach an intended exoplanet beyond our solar system.