Current solar sail materials will let us pass within 30 solar radii of the sun but withstanding the heat and getting closer enables far faster speeds. The right metal solar sail would let us get within 5-10 solar radii. A dielectric ceramic solar sail would let us get within 3 solar radii. We would then need to work on multiple layers to get from about 10% reflectivity to 90% or more reflection. Making a light and thin solar sail out of the right layering of materials will let us send objects at speeds of 25 AU (distance from the Earth to the sun) per year. This would mean 20-year missions to the 500 AU start of the gravitational lens. At the gravitational lens areas, we could look on the other side of the sun with 10 billion times better magnification to explore the surface of exoplanets.
Davoyan’s group is working on unpowered solar sail material, laser pushed optimized solar sail material and ultrathin (10 nanometers thick) solar cells. The ultrathin solar cells would potentially enable greater than 10 kilowatt per kilogram power generation. Ultra-high power with ultra low weight enables ultra high speeds and other fantastic space vehicles.
SOURCES- UCLA, NASA
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.