Date of Award

6-2018

Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Jordi Puig-Suari

Abstract

New Horizons, Voyager 1 & 2, and Pioneer 10 & 11 are the only spacecraft to ever venture past Pluto and provide information about space at those large distances. These spacecraft were very expensive and primarily designed to study planets during gravitational assist maneuvers. They were not designed to explore space past Pluto and their study of this environment is at best a secondary mission. These spacecraft rely on radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) to provide power, an expensive yet necessary approach to generating sufficient power. With Cubesats graduating to interplanetary capabilities, such as the Mars-bound MarCO spacecraft, matching the modest payload requirements to study the outer Solar System (OSS) with the capabilities of low-power nano-satellites may enable much more affordable access to deep space. This paper explores a design concept for a low-cost, small spacecraft, designed to study the OSS and satisfy mission requirements with solar power. The general spacecraft design incorporates a parabolic reflector that acts as both a solar concentrator and a high gain antenna. This paper explores a working design concept for a small spacecraft to operate up to 100 astronomical units (AU) from the sun. Deployable reflector designs, thermal and radiation environments, communications and power requirements, solar system escape trajectory options, and scientific payload requirements are detailed, and a working system is proposed that can fulfill mission requirements with expected near-future innovations in a few key technologies.

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