A mission concept for the low-cost large-scale exploration and characterisation of near earth objects

Lewis Walker, Marilena Di Carlo, Cristian Greco, Massimiliano Vasile, Matthew Warden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper presents the preliminary mission and science analysis of a new mission concept for the large scale, low-cost exploration of Near Earth Objects (NEOs). The concept is to enable close range observations of NEOs by performing close flybys of a series of NEOs at one of their nodal points, with pairs of small spacecraft flying in formation. The paper presents a preliminary assessment of accessible asteroids and multi-target tour trajectories from data available in the JPL small-body database. The main instruments on board each spacecraft are a camera and a LIDAR which together can be used for orbit determination, sur-face imaging, direct asteroid ranging and asteroid mass estimation via intersatellite ranging. The paper provides a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the measurable quantities during each flyby. In particular, the feasibility of a novel method of NEO mass estimation is assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3880-3908
Number of pages29
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Volume67
Issue number11
Early online date19 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • near Earth asteroids
  • nanosatellites
  • formation flight
  • radioscience
  • cubesat

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