Targets

The proposed strategy consists in a direct trajectory to the rendezvous target (either Ceres or a main belt comet). During the cruise phase, one or two main belt asteroid(s) will be visited (fly-bys), with a priority given to the reconnaissance of new worlds (e.g., a metallic asteroid). The choice of the rendezvous target will be investigated during the definition phase and will result from a trade-off between launch window opportunities, available spacecraft resources and the discovery during the forthcoming years of additional active main belt asteroids. For now, our baseline scenario has the dwarf planet Ceres as rendezvous target and both 3034 Climenhaga (binary asteroid) and 497 Iva (metallic asteroid) as flyby targets. The possible presence of a subsurface ocean on Ceres implies that it must be considered as an astrobiological target and potential habitable world at the same level as Mars and the icy satellites such as Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus.