A concept talked about in the literature has come to the reality now. NASA is going to invest a huge amount of $100,000 into the study of “Tractor Beams” what could possibly be useful for the future missions.
NASA scientist Paul Stysley says the approach could “enhance science goals and reduce mission risk”.
NASA will be zeroing in on the three approaches, one is well-known effect called “Optical Tweezers” in which objects can be trapped in an area where two laser beams cross.
The other two involve “Solenoid” and “Bessel” beams. The intensity peaks within a Solenoid beam are found in a spiral around the line of the beam itself, while a Bessel beam’s intensity rises and falls in peaks and troughs at higher distances from the beam’s line.
“[Present] techniques have proven to be largely successful, but they are limited by high costs and limited range and sample rate,” said Dr. Stysley.
“An optical-trapping system, on the other hand, could grab desired molecules from the upper atmosphere on an orbiting spacecraft or trap them from the ground or lower atmosphere from a lander.
“In other words, they could continuously and remotely capture particles over a longer period of time, which would enhance science goals and reduce mission risk.”