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Quantitative evaluation of a dual-band spacecraft communication concept for a 1000 AU interstellar pathfinder mission
Author(s): B. G. Boone; R. L. McNutt; S. Mubashir Anwar; Adam L. Beck; Mohammed Edaibat; Katelyn Kufahl; Rebecca R. Shaw
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Paper Abstract

The goal of a realistic interstellar mission to the nearest star recently announced by NASA as a new space exploration objective targeted for circa 2069, presents a daunting but exciting prospect for creating a pragmatic but visionary mission design. For such a long-range mission goal, mission enabling technological developments need to be developed and evaluated in precursor missions beyond the edge of the solar system. NASA is stimulating such a pathfinder mission starting this year to promote efforts that could build upon what has been accomplished by New Horizons, and for which APL can leverage heat shield technology used on the Parker Solar Probe. An academically-inspired graduate-student supported study at Johns Hopkins University reported on our progress presented at the 2018 Committee on Space Research meeting (COSPAR 2018) in assessing and evaluating several critical subsystem issues and fruitful lines of innovation to improve dual-band downlink performance for a 1000 AU (1.5 × 1011 km) mission. This work recapitulates and extends some work done much earlier at APL. We propose to quantify several critical subsystem trades essential to interstellar spacecraft communications, command and data handling, and critical guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) functions. These include the following: optimizing trajectories during transit and arrival in the targeted system, acquiring a quality mix of relevant highly-compressed scientific data, providing an accurate navigation capability at sub-relativistic speeds, insuring a robust communication system over extraordinary distances, and maintaining an effective command and data handling subsystem, while acknowledging the criticality of a survivable spacecraft bus in an illdefined, harsh and very long duration environment.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 March 2019
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 10910, Free-Space Laser Communications XXXI, 1091003 (4 March 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2513937
Show Author Affiliations
B. G. Boone, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab., LLC (United States)
R. L. McNutt, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab., LLC (United States)
S. Mubashir Anwar, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Adam L. Beck, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Mohammed Edaibat, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Katelyn Kufahl, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Rebecca R. Shaw, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10910:
Free-Space Laser Communications XXXI
Hamid Hemmati; Don M. Boroson, Editor(s)

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