Project Icarus: Astronomical Considerations Relating to the Choice of Target Star

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I. A. Crawford (2010), JBIS, 63, pp.419-425

Refcode: 2010.63.419
Keywords: Interstellar travel; nearby stars; extrasolar planets; astrobiology

In this paper we outline the considerations required in order to select a target star system for the Icarus interstellar mission. It is considered that the maximum likely range for the Icarus vehicle will be 15 light-years, and a list is provided of all known stars within this distance range. As the scientific objectives of Icarus are weighted towards planetary science and astrobiology, a final choice of target star(s) cannot be made until we have a clearer understanding of the prevalence of planetary systems within 15 light-years of the Sun, and we summarise what is currently known regarding planetary systems within this volume. We stress that by the time an interstellar mission such as Icarus is actually undertaken, astronomical observations from the solar system will have provided this information. Finally, given the high proportion of multiple star systems within 15 light- years (including the closest of all stars to the Sun in the α Centauri system), we stress that a flexible mission architecture, able to visit stars and accompanying planets within multiple systems, is desirable. This paper is a submission of the Project Icarus Study Group.

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