Solar sail spacecraft could be used to intercept interstellar objects

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Solar sails could help spacecraft get up to speed

Solar sails could help spacecraft get up to speed

Bryan Versteeg/SpaceHabs.com/Xplore

To date, astronomers have spotted one asteroid and one comet visiting our planetary neighbourhood from other star systems. In both cases, though, we’ve only been able to get long-range views of these rare interstellar wanderers as they whip past during fleeting encounters.

Now a group of scientists in the US have been looking at using a solar sailing spacecraft to chase down, and examine up-close, similar objects when they appear in the future. Such a probe would be pushed through space …

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