NASA’s Plans to Use Solar Wind for Extensive Space Expedition

Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced its plans to use its new propellant-free propulsion technology called E-Sail as a means to explore space’s farthest corners that remain inaccessible until now. Under this automation, it aims to discover new areas outside the Solar System by harnessing solar winds to sail across the universe and minimize its traveling time while doing so.

The Introduction of E-Sail and Wiegmann’s Official Statement on How It Works

Engineer and principal E-Sail investigator Bruce Wiegmann issued an official statement regarding the matter. According to Wiegmann, a search mission propelled by E-Sail could entirely change the scientific returns of that type of space voyages. Moreover, he added that an E-Sail-influenced journey might allow travel to the heliopause possible within or less than ten years.

Despite its name, the Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System E-Sail doesn’t sound like a voyage at all. If anything, researchers described it as a spacecraft center’s protruding point – a giant naked umbrella composed of 10 to 20 aluminum rods. Every spoke is remarkably thin, with its width measuring like that of a paperclip’s. However, it has a length of about 20 kilometers or 12.5 miles, emphasizing its very long features. The craft’s slow rotations would cause the rods’ pulled locations by centrifugal forces. However, a peculiar thing to note is that the said probe is not similar to how terrestrial ships get propelled by the winds.

In response to such oddity, Wiegmann explained that the E-Sail would use the sun’s protons to fuel the satellite into space. He also said that the solar winds’ very high speeds of 400 to 750 kilometers per second originate from that of the sun’s released electrons and protons.

It would use the E-Sail’s positively charged rods to ward off protons electrostatically to propel the craft. NASA’s High-Intensity Solar Environment Test System tested the idea to prove its accuracy. The team experiments with the proton and electron collision rates using a positively charged stainless steel wire. For extended testing, the previously mentioned procedure would create very minimal degradations of it.

Kepler’s Observations and Galilee’s Hypothesis on Solar Winds

In the past, many know 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler for jotting down planetary motion laws on his notes. While he observed comets in the night sky one day, he noticed that their tails always face opposite from the sun regardless of their progressive directions. That meant one thing for Kepler – the sun’s winds are responsible for blowing the comets’ tails away.

During Kepler’s time, the theory might have been strange for the majority of people. However, Kepler’s friend, Galileo Galilee, believed in it when Kepler sent him a letter in 1610. According to one of Galilee’s writings, he confirmed that the sun produces wind to propel objects away from it in space. He later supplied that harnessing the sun’s breezes is indeed possible. Galilee went on to cite that heavenly winds offer sails or ships velocity that can bravely explore the space’s expanse even at its voids to support his train of thought.

Earlier years portrayed astronomers using rockets to blast into space and discover nearby planets and heavenly systems. However, their limitations for exploration are bound too many. Rockets’ finite supply of fuel substance only lasts up to fixed distances, failing to make it through unreachable points across space. 

A solar sailing ship for space can change the entire history of cosmology, space science, astronomy, and the like. With it, one can utilize the sun winds’ unlimited source of power to keep on discovering the expanse that the universe has to offer. Manifesting the idea also means validating Kepler’s theory and observations thousand of years ago.