COLLOQUIUM: Dawn, the Asteroid Redirect Mission, and the Future of Solar Electric Propulsion
The ongoing Dawn mission has as its goal the exploration of the two most massive main-belt asteroids, 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres. This mission is enabled by an on-board, solar powered, ion propulsion system that will provide a total velocity change to the spacecraft of 11 km/s using 425 kg of xenon propellant. Launched in 2007, Dawn has already completed its investigation of Vesta and has successfully rendezvoused with Ceres. Its ion propulsion system is ten times more fuel efficient than the best chemical systems, and it has already operated for more than 40,000 hours, making it the most advanced propulsion system ever flown in deep space. Building on the success of Dawn, NASA has been investigating the feasibility of using a high power solar electric propulsion system to enable the capture and retrieval of a large boulder with a mass of 20 to 40 metric tons from a near-Earth asteroid, ultimately placing the boulder in a stable orbit in cislunar space. Astronaut missions to the captured boulder using the Space Launch System and Orion would result in the first human missions beyond low-Earth orbit in 50 years. This presentation will discuss the Dawn mission, asteroid retrieval, and why in-space transportation technology based on solar electric propulsion is the key to unlocking the inner solar system for human exploration.
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory 2019-2020 Colloquium Committee is comprised of the following people. Please feel free to contact them by e-mail regarding any possible speakers or topics for future colloquia.
- Carol Ann Austin 609-243-2484
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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