CEDAR email: EPSC-DPS conference 2019; session "Interstellar Probe: science, mission designs, opportunities and challenges"

Olivier Witasse owitasse at cosmos.esa.int
Wed Apr 3 03:50:34 MDT 2019

Dear colleagues

we would like to draw your attention to the EPSC-DPS (15-20 September 
2019, Geneva) session:

"Interstellar Probe: science, mission designs, opportunities and 


The session summary is copied below.

Thanks for considering submitting an abstract (deadline 8 May).

Best wishes

Olivier Witasse, for the convener


An Interstellar Probe mission would be the first dedicated mission to 
venture into the unknown space between our star and other potentially 
habitable planetary systems. The idea was first discussed dating back to 
1960 and the concept has been studied by multiple groups since then. The 
lack of propulsion technologies and launch vehicles have often presented 
a stumbling block for NASA and other space agencies to move further with 
these concepts. In 2016, a congressional report recommended NASA to take 
the enabling steps for an Interstellar scientific probe. A new 
NASA-funded study is under way to design a pragmatic Interstellar Probe 
mission with a goal of reaching 1000 AU within 50 years using available 
or near-term technology. The study objectives are to identify compelling 
science targets, develop realistic mission concepts and evaluate 
critical technologies. The cross-disciplinary science targets include 
exploration of the Very Local Interstellar Medium and its interaction 
with the heliosphere, characterization of the circum-solar dust disk, 
exploration of previously unexplored Kuiper Belt Objects, and 
observation of the extragalactic background light beyond the zodiacal 
cloud. A vantage point far away from the solar system, naturally enables 
these observations to be put in the context of other exoplanetary 
systems and astrospheres. At the same time, Chinese scientists are 
studying with their space agency CNSA a scenario in which two 
“Heliospheric Boundary Explorers” would be launched 6 years apart, one 
towards the “nose” of the Heliosphere, one in the direction of its 
putative tail, to address scientific objectives partly similar to the 
ones described in the NASA study. Not only will the synergies between 
these two missions be particularly valuable, but also both of them will 
offer unique opportunities for broad international collaborations, 
including European contributions.
This session will welcome reports on the unique science discoveries 
enabled by missions to the Interstellar Medium beyond heliospheric 
boundaries and will discuss their design concepts, enabling technologies 
and programmatic challenges.

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