Interstellar probe: Breakthrough science enabled by nuclear propulsion

T. H. Zurbuchen, P. Prashant, A. Gallimore, D. Scheeres, N. Murphy, G. Zank, R. Malhotra, H. Funsten

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


It is the purpose of Interstellar Probe (ISP) to follow NASA's exploratory mission to cross the heliospheric boundary regions and, for the first time, enter our extra-solar galactic environment. Interstellar Probe has therefore captured the imagination of the science community and the public for several decades. In 1997, NASA commissioned a science and technology definition team to address the science and technology aspects of ISP. However, a number of scientific issues and technology aspects have changed: Voyager has now observed signatures of the heliosphere's termination shock. We now also have modern three-dimensional simulations of the heliospheric interface regions. In addition, nuclear power has become a feasible alternative for propulsion of Interstellar Probe. We intend to discuss cross-disciplinary opportunities for scientific studies of the outer solar system and astrophysics, in an effort to broaden the scope and impact of the ISP mission. We will also discuss how nuclear propulsion might affect the instrumentation, mission requirements, and the mission plan, as well as how it may enable new science objectives. We discuss the science, payload, ongoing trade studies, and development of this approach for the Interstellar Probe, relying on technology developed for the Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter (JIMO).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2004
EventInternational Astronautical Federation - 55th International Astronautical Congress 2004 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: Oct 4 2004Oct 8 2004


OtherInternational Astronautical Federation - 55th International Astronautical Congress 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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