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I have read a lot of literature concerning manned missions to the Moon, Mars, and the Jovian moons. Something I have not heard much about, despite it's relative distance and interesting composition, is a manned flight to Ceres.

What sort of engineering challenges would be posed by landing on Ceres? The diagram provided by Wikipedia suggests a thin, dusty crust with an inner layer of water-ice. Could a landing conceivably disrupt the crust in that area, and how could a manned team study geology there?

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Landing on Ceres would probably be much like landing on the Moon or Mars--it's mostly flat probably with a few craters, so it wouldn't be that novel of an event. And we've sent unmanned missions far further than Ceres, so propulsion obviously isn't an issue.

The single biggest engineering obstacle that would have to be worked out would simply be figuring out how to keep humans alive and healthy over the course of such a long flight. Ceres is roughly four times as far away from Earth as Mars is at its closest (270 million km vs 54 million km), and would take well over a year even with our fastest technology. At that point, simply having the space for enough food for a few astronauts is a daunting task, especially if you have to worry about a return trip.

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