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 build up huge 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 have 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 has 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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