Artistic vision of an interstellar asteroid 1I / 2017 U1. A unique object was recorded on October 19, 2017 with a Pan-STARRS 1 telescope (Hawaii)
In October, the scientific world shook the news about the first interstellar asteroid. The object was named 1I / 2017 U1 and noted interesting characteristics. For example, the rapid changes in brightness hinted that it is rocky and metallic, which is strange.
Orbital data showed that the closest approach to the Sun occurred in September 2017, and now the asteroid is returning to interstellar space. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions that the project Lear is going to sort out. This idea belongs to the Interstellar Exploration Initiative.
At first observations, it was believed that the mysterious object was a comet. But a further review confirmed the characteristics of the asteroid. The Very Large Telescope helped calculate the size, brightness, color, color and orbital path. It turned out that 1I / 2017 U1 is pulled out at 400 m in length, and spends 7.3 hours on an axial turn.
The asteroid is rocky and has a huge amount of metal. There are traces of Tolin - organic molecules irradiated with UV light. The incredible hyperbolic orbit is surprising, where the eccentricity reaches 1.2.
The object was not originally formed in our system, so further study will help to understand not only where it came from, but also how the creation process took place. There is an assumption that similar objects arrive to us once a year, but this one is noticed first, because earlier we did not have a sufficiently powerful search technology.
Researchers believe that the asteroid arrived provides a unique opportunity to study material from another system. Therefore, it would be more logical to send him a spacecraft.
Of course, this undertaking is faced with problems, the main of which is speed. The asteroid is already out of our system and is moving at a speed of 26 km / s. No mission in the history of space research has accelerated to such indicators. The fastest ship leaving the system is Voyager-1, and the fastest is New Horizons.
Scientists understand the complexity of the problem, but are confident that the project will push for innovations and new developments in space research. But any created ship will have to pursue this particular asteroid, because it is the closest.
It is also important to calculate the trade-off between the excess speed of the ship at launch and the excess speed relative to the asteroid during the approach. It is best to exceed the speed at startup, but this will lead to slow motion. If we increase the speed in a collision, then the time for studying the object itself and the extraction of samples will decrease.
Now a team of scientists is trying to create an apparatus based on an impulsive motor system. In addition, a direct flight to the target is assumed here, that is, approach to objects along the way is excluded. The most realistic calculations show that it will be possible to launch the device in the next 5-10 years, where the hyperbolic excess speed will reach 33-76 km / s. Various shipping methods are also considered. Among the options are the NASA space rocket system (SLA), which significantly simplifies mission design, or the Big Falcon Rocket SpaceX (BFR), which is able to organize a mission by 2025.
In flight, they plan to use the gravitational force of Jupiter and the possibility of applying the technology of solar sail. Of course, more advanced innovations will require serious expenses, but researchers claim that the mission will justify the costs.
As a result, the passage of a “stranger” through the solar system has caused not only interest among scientists from all over the world, but also can push humanity to create new technologies.