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Published March 2023 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Interstellar Object Accessibility and Mission Design


Interstellar objects (ISOs) are fascinating and under-explored celestial objects, providing physical laboratories to understand the formation of our solar system and probe the composition and properties of material formed in exoplanetary systems. In this work, we investigate approaches to designing successful flyby missions to ISOs. We have generated trajec-tories to a series of synthetic representative ISOs, simulating a ground campaign to observe the target and resolve its state, and determining the cruise and close approach Δ V required for the encounter. We have developed novel deep learning-driven guidance and control algorithms to enable an accurate flyby of an ISO traveling at velocities over 60 km/s. In this paper, we discuss the accessibility of and mission design to ISOs with varying characteristics, including analysis of state covariance estimation over the course of cruise, handoffs from traditional navigation approaches to novel autonomous navigation for fast flyby regimes, and overall recommendations about preparing for the future in situ exploration of these targets.

Additional Information

© 2023. California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. This work is being carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract to NASA. Government sponsorship acknowledged.

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August 20, 2023
October 20, 2023