TAU - A mission to a thousand astronomical unitsThe potential of nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) is investigated as the enabling technology for achieving a mission to a thousand astronomical units within 50 years duration. By means of a 1000 AU baseline, the primary objective is to make measurements of distances to the stars in the Galaxy and beyond. In addition, several deep space unique studies in astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, and space plasma physics can be carried out. NEP technology requirements for a mission to 1000 AU are addressed. These technology requirements are compared with current plans for both nuclear space power and ion propulsion research. And finally an example TAU spacecraft system is described.
Nock, K. T. (California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Japan)