The Jupiter Observing Velocity Experiment (JOVE) is a solar-powered technology demonstration of rapid flight to outer solar system targets, performing a flyby of the Jovian magnetosphere 30 days after launch. This is achieved using a magnetic drag device to accelerate with the solar wind plasma. This “Wind Rider” propulsion system can potentially also decelerate against the Jovian plasmapause dawn eddy, to enable Jupiter orbital insertion in future missions. The 16U cubesat bus contains an array of scientific instruments to record the plasma parameters from the vicinity of the spacecraft, with principal measurements coming from a SPAN-I ion velocity sensor.
This class of propulsion system enables SmallSat missions to a wide variety of outer solar system targets, opening up a range of previously unreachable science opportunities.
The solar wind goes up to 700 kilometer per second from the north and south end of the sun but 400 kilometers per second out along the plane of the planets in the solar system.
This proof of concept mission in a ridesharing launch could cost as little as $20-40 million.
The main costs and work is to develop deployable superconducting coils. These would be the largest superconducting structures ever deployed in space.
Later missions could be enhanced with Dynamic soaring. Dynamic soaring would be diving in and out of faster and slower solar wind to get to speeds ten to twenty times as fast as the top solar wind speed. This could reach 6000 kilometers per second or about 2% of light speed using solar wind dynamic soaring.
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.
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