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Sending a Spacecraft to Interstellar Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov)

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Monday, September 16, 2019

Adam Hibberd, Nikolaos Perakis, Andreas M. Hein

(Submitted on 13 Sep 2019)

A potential second interstellar object C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) was discovered after the first known interstellar object 1I/'Oumuamua. Can we send a spacecraft to this object, using existing technologies? In this paper, we assess the technical feasibility of a mission to C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), using existing technologies. We apply the Optimum Interplanetary Trajectory Software (OITS) tool to generate trajectories to C/2019 Q4 (Borisov). As results, we get the minimal DeltaV trajectory with a launch date in July 2018. For this trajectory, a Falcon Heavy launcher could have hauled a 2 ton spacecraft to C/2019 Q4 (Borisov). For a later launch date, results for a combined powered Jupiter flyby with a Solar Oberth maneuver are presented. For a launch in 2030, we could reach C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) in 2045, using the Space Launch System, up-scaled Parker probe heatshield technology, and solid propulsion engines. A CubeSat-class spacecraft with a mass of 3 kg could be sent to C/2019 Q4 (Borisov). If C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) turns out to be indeed an interstellar object, its discovery shortly after the discovery of 1I/'Oumuamua implies that the next interstellar object might be discovered in the near future. The feasibility of a mission to both, 1I/'Oumuamua and C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) using existing technologies indicates that missions to further interstellar objects are likely to be feasible as well.

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Space Physics (physics.space-ph)

Cite as: arXiv:1909.06348 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1909.06348v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Andreas Hein M.  

[v1] Fri, 13 Sep 2019 17:48:17 UTC (1,038 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.06348

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