In a major new development, NASA has started testing segments of another framework that could see spacecraft ride the sun-based wind into interstellar space called the Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS). This framework would comprise of 10 to 20 electrically charged, exposed aluminum wires emanating from the focal point of a rocket to shape around the E-Sail.
The wires would electrostatically repulse the quick moving protons of the sun-oriented wind, with the energy delivered making the shuttle push. The Sun discharges protons and electrons into the wind at high speeds – 400 to 750 kilometers per second, said Bruce Wiegmann, one of the key developers of the project.
The spacecraft would be directed by adjusting every wire’s individual voltage, changing the power connected to various segments of the E-Sail. The tests in the High-Intensity Solar Environment Test framework, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, are intended to find the rate of proton and electron impacts with a decidedly charged wire.
Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transport System (HERTS)
A charged stainless steel wire will be put in a controlled plasma chamber mimicking plasma in space to copy how the aluminum wire would act in space. Specialists will then utilize the information to enhance their models that will then be scaled up.
The NASA researchers anticipate that the framework would be quick. It took NASA’s Voyager 1 shuttle 35 years to achieve the heliopause; HERTS could make the trek in under a third the time.
The research has demonstrated that an interstellar test mission pushed by an E-Sail could go to the heliopause in just ten years, informed Wiegmann. According to him, this could change the exploratory returns of these sorts of missions. However, the E-Sail could be utilized for shorter spacecraft missions as well.
As the group concentrated on this idea, it turned out to be clear that the configuration is adaptable and versatile, said Wiegmann. Mission and vehicle creators can exchange off wire length, the number of wires and voltage levels to fit their needs including inward planetary, external planetary or heliopause. As per researchers, the E-Sail was exceptionally versatile.