Interstellar objects are objects that exist in interstellar space and are not bound by the forces of gravity with any star. Identifying them is an extremely difficult task, but doable: such an object, in particular, can be observed as it passes through the solar system.
Even more difficult is the detailed study of interstellar objects, which is associated, among other things, with their enormous speeds. Now Russian experts have presented one of the options for how this can be implemented. Alexander Bagrov, a leading specialist of the Lavochkin NGO, spoke about the details of the project.
According to the specialist, interstellar objects entering our system can be studied with the help of automatic kamikaze spacecraft. They should not sit on objects, but crash into them, penetrating under the surface. One of the main challenges in this direction is to ensure the required strength. “Scientific equipment will be preserved if it is filled with strong, strong material,” says Alexander Bagrov. Cryogenic ice is considered as such material.
According to the materials of the report, the spacecraft will collide with the surface at a speed of about 50 kilometers per second, penetrating to a depth of 250 meters thanks to a special heavy-duty penetrator. “We have a penetrator, a part of which we sacrifice upon impact. It is spent on interacting with the target, but the tail section with the scientific equipment is completely preserved,”says Bagrov.
Such a device will not be “universal”. For example, the first interstellar object -1I / Oumuamua known to science flying through the solar system - the probe after "landing" will pass through. There is one more problem. Due to the strong impact and the associated ejection of a part of the environment, it will not be possible to analyze in detail the object for the possible existence of life there: there simply will not be any material that could be used for analysis. Nevertheless, in general, experts believe the presented method for studying interstellar objects is quite effective.
Recall that scientists still cannot understand what exactly the aforementioned 1I / Oumuamua is, although it was discovered back in 2017. Some experts believe that the object may have an artificial extraterrestrial origin. However, most experts are leaning towards less “fantastic” versions.