Theoretical peak performance and optical constraints for the deflection of an S-type asteroid with a continuous wave laser

Thiry, Nicolas and Vasile, Massimiliano (2016) Theoretical peak performance and optical constraints for the deflection of an S-type asteroid with a continuous wave laser. Advances in Space Research, 59 (5). pp. 1353-1367. ISSN 0273-1177

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    Abstract

    This paper presents a theoretical model to evaluate the thrust generated by a continuous wave (CW) laser, operating at moderate intensity (<100GW/m2), ablating an S-type asteroid made of Forsterite. The key metric to assess the performance of the laser system is the thrust coupling coefficient which is given by the ratio between thrust and associated optical power. Three different models are developed in the paper: a one dimensional steady state model, a full 3D steady state model and a one dimensional model accounting for transient effects resulting from the tumbling motion of the asteroid. The results obtained with these models are used to derive key requirements and constraints on the laser system that allow approaching the ideal performance in a realistic case.