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Analysis of a Solar Sail Mercury Sample Return Mission

Analysis of a Solar Sail Mercury Sample Return Mission

Publication date: 02 May 2004

Authors: Hughes, G., et al.

Journal: Proceedings of IAC, Vancouver 2004
Year: 2004

Copyright: IAC

Mercury is one of the least explored planets, and has many perplexing features. A conventional sample return mission requires significant launch mass, due to the large ¿v required for the outbound and return trips, and the large mass allocation necessary for a planetary lander and ascent vehicle. Solar sailing can be used to reduce the lander mass allocation by delivering the lander to low, thermally safe orbit close to the terminator. In addition, the ascending node of the solar sail parking orbit plane can be artificially forced to avoid out-of-plane manoeuvres during ascent from the planetary surface.

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