Project Icarus: Mechanisms for Enhancing the Stability of Gravitationally Lensed Interstellar Communications


P. Galea; R. Swinney (2011), JBIS64, 24-28

Refcode: 2011.64.24

As part of the Project Icarus study we are considering novel ways of receiving data from an interstellar probe where conventional communication technologies are challenged by the considerable distances involved. It is theoretically possible for a craft to use the Sun as a gravitational lens to increase receiver gain along the line joining the craft and the centre of the Sun out to infinity. This could be used to assist in the reception of signals from a probe at another star. However, it is necessary to hold the receiver craft in line with an extremely high degree of accuracy. We consider various mechanisms for assisting the receiver craft to maintain a tight lock on the signal, including the use of a constellation of assisting satellites, and multiple antennas on the receiving craft. We suggest interstellar precursor missions that would assist the development of these mechanisms. This is a submission of the Project Icarus Study Group.