Jul 13, 2022
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What is preventing us from sending numerous tiny probes/orbiters into interstellar space, do we still lack the technology or courage? Since through gravity assist alone we can increase the speed of spacecrafts, why don't we send out many in various directions, with all the necessary instruments, like we've sent to mars?

If not the probes then why not just orbiters? Can we not launch tiny bots or something kinda similar to the breakthrough starshot?
For making stuff out of Al,Cu,Nb,Pt nanowires, 15nm diameter 60nm length and curved at each end, I figure radiation damages them after 25 space years in the Solar System.
Laser communications is hard to make small and reliable. Radio communication is likely big with meteorites being the new hazard. For example, we need to map the sky volume up to Makemake to see density of meteorites and dust before we plot a course. The Mars Rover systems are easy for basic probe systems as it it only drives on a 2D plane. Some of our sensors are heavy. GPR uses a box to house radar waves.
Ion engines use heating processes in another box; too thin and the ion box wall will erode through. If we want to drill or scoop that is massive just for leverage on most dry pan weathered space surfaces. A nebula cloud analysis might be small equipment. Space is not the inert environment we dreamed it was before QED: a ping pong table.
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I think the problems and my objections are practical. How do they communicate? What power supply? What instruments can they carry? If very high velocity, how much observation can a very small probe do of deep space objects during a fast fly-by? I think going small will greatly limit probe capabilities. Going fast can go further but limit what can be observed.

What kind of targets? Interstellar - as in reaching other stars intact and being able to make high quality observations and communicate that back - seems so far beyond our capabilities as to be considered "impossible". Whilst Kuiper and Oort objects can add to our knowledge of the universe I don't see them as high priority unless we already have reason to believe they are of special interest; probes to comets/asteroids that come from out there, during their time in the inner solar systme may still be the most effective way to learn about deep space objects. Or perhaps projectiles rather than probes, to blow material out so JWT grade or better telescopic instruments can study it?

Whilst I am generally in favor of thorough surveying of everything possible as the way to find things of special interest as well as just of what is there we will have to pick and choose our targets because of our limitations. The solar system has no shortage of objects and objectives that are much closer and more interesting. That doesn't mean they are easy targets.
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Another difficulty with tiny is the temperature. I just read nanoparticles made at near Absolute Zero and kept cold until the experiment have more surface detail than those typically made at a warmer temperature and then cooled during or before and during an experiment. If the particles form a clock or something it will be damaged by even thermal cycling from a radiation source. Electrical wires might work a few mm diameter and not a micron. Thin is generally fragile in space, though redundancy is possible,
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"Science begets knowledge, opinion ignorance.
Probes to interstellar space

So where do we stand? They would have to be small, and, I guess, not that many of them, on grounds of practicality and cost. For lightsails, they must be tiny, and that may introduce its own problems. Also, how about dangers from radiation and/or meteroids/space dust? OK, they do present small targets. Are they practical or not?

Cat :)

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