Seminar featuring Prof Artur Davoyan; “Light sailing for breakthrough space exploration”


Abstract: Space exploration is a key to pushing the boundaries of space science, fundamental physics and probing the origins of life. Nonetheless, fundamental limitations of today’s spacecraft propulsion constrain the range of possible future missions. As a result, planets and celestial bodies beyond Saturn have been visited only once and only two probes have left the heliosphere. Exploration of the outer space necessitates new methods for faster, more frequent and lower cost missions.  In this talk I will overview our ongoing studies of extreme solar sailing mission concepts. I will show that solar sails have the potential to transform space exploration, making it low cost, fast and ubiquitous. Specifically, I will discuss that by performing a close perihelion flyby at <15 solar radii cubesat class spacecraft equipped with solar sails may be slingshot to near arbitrary trajectories and destinations, including solar polar and halo orbits, as well as fast-exist hyperbolic trajectories. I will show that solar sails can reach >20 AU/year of cruise velocity, and potentially as high as 60 AU/year, which is more than 10 times faster than the record set by the Voyager 1 spacecraft.  Such fast transit solar sail missions have a potential to open a new chapter in the exploration of the deep space and interstellar medium.  Yet development of such solar sail missions faces many challenges, including materials, ultralight-weight architectures, deep space navigation and communications. I will briefly survey major limitations, and outline our ongoing efforts on development of extreme materials that could allow getting close to the Sun, including technology and science roadmaps.

Biosketch: Dr. Artur Davoyan is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and is a NASA NIAC Fellow. His group is developing new materials for advancing space exploration with an aim of making it fast and accessible. He is leading the Extreme Solar Sailing mission study, which has set a goal of enabling fast-transit interstellar probe missions. He is also an active contributor to the Breakthrough Starshot and Solar Gravity Lens mission concepts. Prof. Davoyan is an expert in materials science, metamaterials, photonics, and astronautics. Prior to his coming to UCLA, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Caltech and the University of Pennsylvania

Date(s) - Nov 16, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


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