Planetary protection efficiency by a small kinetic impactor

Joan-Pau Sanchez Cuartielles, Camilla Colombo, Colin McInnes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Abstract

This paper re-examines the deflection concept with, arguably, the highest technological readiness level: the kinetic impactor. A baseline design for the concept with a 1,000 kg spacecraft launched from Earth is defined. The paper then analyses the capability of the kinetic spacecraft to offer planetary protection, thus, deflecting asteroids on a collision trajectory with Earth. In order to give a realistic estimate, the paper uses a set of more than 17 thousand Earth-impacting trajectories and has computed the largest asteroid mass that could be deflected to a sufficiently safe distance from Earth. By using the relative impact frequency of the different impact orbits, which can be estimated by modeling the asteroid population and the collision probability of the different impact geometries, a figure on the level of planetary protection that such a system could offer can be estimated. The results show that such a system could offer very high levels of protection, around 97% deflection reliability, against objects between 15 to 75 meters, while decreases for larger sizes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2011
EventIAA Planetary Defense Conference, Protecting Earth from Asteroids: From threat to Action - Bucharest, , Romania
Duration: 9 May 201112 May 2011

Conference

ConferenceIAA Planetary Defense Conference, Protecting Earth from Asteroids: From threat to Action
CountryRomania
CityBucharest,
Period9/05/1112/05/11

Keywords

  • kinetic impact
  • asteroid deflection
  • earth-impacting trajectories
  • impact geometries
  • planetary protection

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