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Passive sorting of asteroid material using solar radiation pressure

Garcia Yarnoz, Daniel and Sanchez Cuartielles, Joan-Pau and McInnes, Colin (2013) Passive sorting of asteroid material using solar radiation pressure. In: 23rd AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference, 2013-02-10 - 2013-02-14.

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Understanding dust dynamics in asteroid environments is key for future science missions to asteroids and, in the long-term, also for asteroid exploitation. This paper proposes a novel way of manipulating asteroid material by means of solar radiation pressure (SRP). We envisage a method for passively sorting material as a function of its grain size where SRP is used as a passive in-situ ‘mass spec-trometer’. The analysis shows that this novel method allows an effective sorting of regolith material. This has immediate applications for sample return, and in-situ resource utilisation to separate different regolith particle sizes.