With no lack of objects to explore inside our solar system, it could take thousands of individual missions to examine them all. The many planets, moons, and asteroids, to name just a few, all have secrets to reveal that might alter the way humanity looks at the sky. In fact, only a few of the asteroids in our solar system have been explored.
For example, OSIRIS-REx is one of the most recent such missions. It is set to return to Earth with a sample of one such space rock. To begin to deal with the numbers problem, scientists recently came up with a new idea. They are now proposing a fleet of nanoprobes that could help explore several dozen space objects at a time.
Nanoprobes By the Dozen Used to Explore Space
Most modern missions into deep space rely on larger probes the size of cars and teeming with instrumentation. These newly proposed nanoprobes would be only about five kilograms in weight. They would contain only a limited suite of instruments.
Such probes would also not have large transmission antennae. Because of this, they would have to return to Earth with the data collected. However, this could also have the potential of making them reusable.
The fleet of nanoprobes would number about fifty as a part of the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s proposed Asteroid Touring Nanosat Fleet. These fifty mini spacecraft could examine up to 300 different objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before returning to earth with the data.
The primary instruments to explore space on board each of them would be a four centimeters telescope for imaging. They would also come along with a mass spectrometer to determine the composition of the objects.
That may not sound like much, but it could resolve the shapes of objects and whether they have craters or tiny satellites of their own. The mass spectrometer could also determine if the asteroids contain any valuable resources, like gold, iron, or water. This fleet of nanoprobes could begin the work of fine-tuning our still rough map of the solar system.
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