If you were to place a long cylinder, open at one end and closed at the other end, and position this cylinder so that the open end is facing the Sun, and then you were to inject plasma ions, such as oxygen ions, into the cylinder near the closed end, would the solar wind entering the open end of the cylinder be strong enough to keep the oxygen ions pinned against the closed end of the cylinder, effectively trapping them there? How close to the Sun would this cylinder need to be for the solar wind to be strong enough to 'entrap' these oxygen ions?

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    $\begingroup$ This is not really about astronomy, but about space exploration, for which there is a separate forum. I'm pretty sure the answer is "this won't work", or at least "work work nearly as well as you think. But on space exploration.se there are people who can tell you for sure. $\endgroup$ – James K Jun 17 '18 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ Check this: space.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – peterh Jun 17 '18 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ You should ask this in space.stackexchange. That said, you can't increase the force that the solar wind imparts on a surface and your tube, a relatively small surface area, that appears to be a problem to me. The idea of solar sails is that they're large and they catch a tennis court sized area of the solar wind. The solar wind is very disburse, so you need to catch a lot of it. I don't think the sail model can be improved upon if you're using the solar wind as a means of propulsion. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Jun 18 '18 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder at the reason for asking this question... $\endgroup$ – user1569 Jun 19 '18 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ I did post a question about this solar wind-container concept in space.stackexchange yesterday and I suppose that this question in astronomy.stackexchange can now be closed. However, I would like to share one more perspective on this idea and get some feedback on it before it is closed. Since the negatively charged oxygen ions repel each other, when the solar wind charged particles slam into them, won't the oxygen ions bounce around like billiard balls on a pool table and pass that kinetic energy to the closed end of the tube, and if so, won't this propel the tube away from the Sun? $\endgroup$ – user23327 Jun 19 '18 at 11:59

So you basically said that we could use the Sun to propel a rocket. We already have rockets like this equipped with solar sails. These solar sails have a "sail" that catches the stuff thrown out of the Sun. I'm no expert on this way of travel, but that is the basic description of how it works.

  • $\begingroup$ What you say is true and I have studied many of the solar sail ideas that are currently being considered, yet I have not seen any solar sail idea that would use water as it’s primary means of propulsion. So I feel my design is a unique one and worth consideration. $\endgroup$ – user23327 Jun 17 '18 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ @FanofComets Water is heavy. Sails are light. Have you calculated the minimum mass of your approach and the maximum kinetic energy transfer per square meter? $\endgroup$ – userLTK Jun 21 '18 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ @userLTK, no, I have not done those calculations. I posted this as a conceptual/theoretical question and at this point I'm just looking to get feedback on whether the working principle of this type of rocket is viable or not. $\endgroup$ – user23327 Jun 22 '18 at 16:11

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