Solar sails could travel to the outermost regions of the solar system faster than ever before.
In 2018, a small space probe will unfurl a sail and begin a journey to a distant asteroid. It’s the first NASA spacecraft that will venture beyond Earth’s orbit propelled entirely by sunlight. This technology could enable inexpensive exploration of the solar system and, eventually, interstellar space.
The $16 million probe, called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, is one of the 13 science payloads that NASA announced Tuesday.
The continuous thrust provided by sunlight hitting the solar sail will accelerate the probe to an impressive 63,975 mph.
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