Interstellar Object Accessibility and Mission DesignOPEN ACCESS 

Benjamin P. S. Donitz, Declan Mages, Hiroyasu Tsukamoto, Peter Dixon, Damon Landau, Soon-Jo Chung, Erica Bufanda, Michel Ingham, Julie Castillo-Rogez

Accepted at IEEE Aerospace Conference


“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. This paper will discuss the accessibility of and mission design to ISOs with varying characteristics, including a discussion of state covariance estimation over the course of a 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. The lessons learned also apply to the fast flyby of other small bodies including long-period comets and potentially hazardous asteroids, which also require a tactical response with similar characteristics”