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On the ballistic capture of asteroids for resource utilisation

Sanchez Cuartielles, Joan-Pau and McInnes, Colin (2011) On the ballistic capture of asteroids for resource utilisation. In: 62nd International Astronautical Congress 2011, 2011-10-03 - 2011-10-07.

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Abstract

This paper investigates the concept of capturing in the Earth’s neighbourhood Earth-approaching objects such as asteroids and comets. These objects may provide access to potential resources, as well as be potential scientific mission opportunities. A statistical approach is used to assess the fraction of the near-Earth object population with a given set of Keplerian elements. This is used to estimate the number of objects with the potential to fly-by the Earth with low relative velocities. The circular restricted three-body problem is then used to show that objects approaching Earth at low hyperbolic excess velocities can potentially be gravitationally captured at Earth. The Tisserand parameter, used as an approximation of the Jacobi constant, can be used to delimit the orbital regions from were low-energy transfers should be expected to exist and asteroids could possibly be transported at a minimum expenditure of energy. Finally, a semi-analytical approximation of the gravitational perturbation in the CR3BP is used to assess the feasible asteroid transport fluxes of capturable material that could be achieved by judicious use of Earth gravitational perturbations.