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Design of a formation of solar pumped lasers for asteroid deflection

Vasile, Massimiliano and Maddock, Christie (2012) Design of a formation of solar pumped lasers for asteroid deflection. Advances in Space Research, 50 (7). pp. 891-905. ISSN 0273-1177

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Abstract

This paper presents the design of a multi-spacecraft system for the deflection of asteroids. Each spacecraft is equipped with a fibre laser and a solar concentrator. The laser induces the sublimation of a portion of the surface of the asteroid, and the resultant jet of gas and debris thrusts the asteroid off its natural course. The main idea is to have a formation of spacecraft flying in the proximity of the asteroid with all the spacecraft beaming to the same location to achieve the required deflection thrust. The paper presents the design of the formation orbits and the multi-objective optimisation of the formation in order to minimise the total mass in space and maximise the deflection of the asteroid. The paper demonstrates how significant deflections can be obtained with relatively small sized, easy-to-control spacecraft.