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 ?

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    $\begingroup$ @Cornelisinspace I think you can just delete those comments now. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 28 '20 at 0:28

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.

  • $\begingroup$ I am not so sure "propulsion is not an issue". Uncrewed payloads can be a lot lighter than crewed ones. Although we need less $\Delta v$ going to Ceres we than for missions we've flown to Jupiter (which is usually as far as we get before using a gravity assist from that planet), it has to be balanced against the heavier mass that crewed spaceflight inevitably brings. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Jun 28 '20 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ It would be very unlike landing on Mars. The gravity is quite weak, and there is no atmosphere. It'd be much easier than a martian or moon landing. $\endgroup$ – Innovine Sep 21 '20 at 9:00

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