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Project Lyra: Catching 1I/\textquoteleftOumuamua \textendash Mission opportunities after 2024

AuthorHibberd, Adam; Hein, Andreas; Eubanks, Marshall;
KeywordsDeltaV; Interplanetary; Optimization; Oumuamua; parker solar probe; Physics - Space Physics; Solar Oberth; Solar Probe Plus; Trajectory

In October 2017, the first interstellar object within our solar system was discovered. Today designated 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua, it shows characteristics that have never before been observed in a celestial body. Due to these characteristics, an in-situ investigation of 1I would be of extraordinary scientific value. Previous studies have demonstrated that a mission to 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua is feasible using current and near-term technologies, however, with an anticipated launch date of 2020-2021. This is too soon to be realistic. This paper aims at addressing the question of the feasibility of a mission to 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua in 2024 and beyond. Using the OITS trajectory simulation tool, various scenarios are analyzed, including a powered Jupiter flyby and Solar Oberth maneuver, a Jupiter powered flyby, and more complex schemes including a Mars and Venus flyby. With a powered Jupiter flyby and Solar Oberth maneuver, we identify a trajectory to 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua with a launch date in 2033, a total velocity increment of 18.2 km/s, and arrival at 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua in 2048. With an additional deep space maneuver before the powered Jupiter flyby, a trajectory with a launch date in 2030, a total velocity increment of 15.3 km/s, and an arrival at 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua in 2052 were identified. Both launch dates would provide over a decade for spacecraft development, in contrast to the previously identified 2020-2021 launch dates. Furthermore, the distance from the Sun at the Oberth burn is at 5 Solar radii. This results in heat flux values of the same order of magnitude as for the Parker Solar Probe. We conclude that a mission to 1I/\textquoterightOumuamua is feasible, using existing and near-term technologies and there is sufficient time for developing such a mission.

Year of Publication2020
JournalActa Astronautica
Number of Pages136-144
Date Published05/2020