On the comet rendezvous exploration and its potential extension via solar electric propulsion (comet nucleus sample and return mission)

Jun'ichiro Kawaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The Comet Nucleus Sample and Return (CNSR) mission has been of great interest for many years. The mission objective is very clear and it provides the clues to the solar system and the origin of life. The paper presents the feasible CNSR scenario taking the advantage of Solar Electric Propulsion to the comet Wilson-Harrington (WH). The plan is found feasible, and the launch window is in 2005 and the spacecraft can return the sample back to the Earth in only 8 years. Another window that is open in 2009-2010 is also provided. They are making use of the ion engine propulsion accumulating the orbital energy at Earth distance, followed by the Earth gravity assist. This is the unique point enabling even the smaller spacecraft to accomplish this high energy mission. This strategy accelerates the spacecraft orbital energy up to 36-40 km2/s2 in C3 that is adequate for the flight to the comet WH. The idea shown here also includes: (1) the rendezvous point to be at Earth distance so that the electric propulsion is utilized at maximum and (2) the target comet to be extinct so that the sampling and in situ measurement scenario robust. The trajectory synthesis developed here and tactical target selection make this impressive mission to be envisioned even by smaller missions. This is not an endorsed mission but ISAS may consider collaborating with the foreign space organization on the mission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume52
Issue number2-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jan
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering

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