Space exploration often costs multiple millions of dollars for each exploratory mission to get a single piece of equipment into orbit. These missions usually return information in the form of scans or images or samples in the form of extracted material. This work proposes the manufacture and deployment of thousands of imaging capable solar sails systems with 10 gram payloads. Power generation is enabled through solar panels and batteries. Navigation is enabled through one square meter solar sails maneuvered by inchworm motors. Communications are enabled by laser transmitters and SPAD optical receivers. Computation is enabled by a $150 computer that runs Linux on a720 MHz ARM Cortex A8 with 1 GB of flash memory and 512 MB of DRAM. Extraction of materials can be accomplished by larger solar sail systems carrying multiple one gram walking, jumping, or digging microrobots that will be deployed onto asteroids or through the tail of a comet and recollected for return to Earth.
August 24, 2021
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