Watch: NASA Interstellar Probe Mission with Prof. Ralph L. McNUtt, Jr.

On Things to Come Webinar

NASA Interstellar Probe Mission

Speaker: Ralph L. McNutt, Jr. 

(The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, USA) 

 Wednesday, 29 September 2021 

9 am GMT+8

Watch the recording on Bilibili 

BEIJING — On 29 September 2021, Prof. Ralph L. McNUtt, Jr. gave an online seminar on NASA Interstellar Probe mission. The lecture was organized in the context of the ISSI-BJ "On Things to Come" series that addresses ongoing as well as future space missions by inviting renowned scientists from different countries, institutes, and space agencies.


About the webinar

What is now known as "Interstellar Probe" has matured as a concept for making new discoveries that can be made in no other way, by going places yet to be explored. "Near-future" propulsion capabilities have always been taken as the backdrop for defining the mission requirements, but the real issue is to unite compelling science with engineering and technical reality. With that perspective in mind, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has been tasked by the NASA Heliophysics Division to (re-)study the mission and provide a Technical Report to be delivered late 2021 for input to next Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey. 

This "pragmatic Interstellar Probe" of the study is a mission through the outer heliosphere and to the nearby "Very Local" interstellar medium(VLISM), uses today' s technology to take the first explicit step on the path of interstellar exploration, and can pave the way, scientifically, technically, and programmatically for more ambitious future journeys(and more ambitious science goals). 

To enforce these goals the broadly-based engineering requirements include (1) be ready technically to launch no later than 1 January 2030; (2) be able to transmit useful scientific data from 1000 au; (3) require no more than 600W(electric) at the beginning of the mission and no more than half of that at mission 's end; and, (4) be capable by design of functioning for no less than 50 years. We provide a top-level summary of the current study status. “It isn't about where we are going. It's about the journey out there.”


About Prof. Ralph L. McNutt, Jr.


Ralph L. McNutt, Jr. is a Physicist, member of the Principal Professional Staff, and Science and Analysis Branch Chief Scientist for Space Science in the Space Exploration Sector of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He received his B.S. in Physics (summa cum laude) at Texas A&M University in 1975 and his Ph.D. in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. 

Dr. McNutt is a Co-Investigator on four current NASA missions. He is a Member and Trustee of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


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