Nanospacecraft exploration of asteroids by collision and flyby reconnaissance

Walker, Lewis and Greco, Cristian and Di Carlo, Marilena and Wilson, Andrew and Ricciardi, Lorenzo and Berquand, Audrey and Vasile, Massimiliano (2019) Nanospacecraft exploration of asteroids by collision and flyby reconnaissance. In: Low-Cost Planetary Missions Conference, 2019-06-03 - 2019-06-05.

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    Abstract

    The number of visited asteroids is low compared to the total number that exists. Only a few missions have ever had a close approach or rendezvous with NEAs to better understand them. Additionally, as most observations are made from Earth, the uncertainties in their orbital elements could be greatly reduced with closer range measurements, while also allowing for other physical quantities to be determined such as mass, albedo, dimensions, and surface features. This concurrent design study acts as a feasibility study for a new concept of nanosatellite mission framework which is intended to allow reconnaissance of a large number of NEAs while minimizing cost. The presented mission framework consists of pairs of nanosatellites travelling together on multi-target flyby trajectories, and is designed to be flexible to suit many different target sets. One such set is presented in detail, however the methods used to find this set also generated many other possible multi flyby trajectories that could equally be launched.