A mission concept for the low-cost large-scale exploration and characterisation of near earth objects

Walker, Lewis and Di Carlo, Marilena and Greco, Cristian and Vasile, Massimiliano and Warden, Matthew (2021) A mission concept for the low-cost large-scale exploration and characterisation of near earth objects. Advances in Space Research, 67 (11). pp. 3880-3908. ISSN 0273-1177 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asr.2020.10.038)

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This paper presents the preliminary mission and science analysis of a new mission concept for the large scale, low-cost exploration of Near Earth Objects (NEOs). The concept is to enable close range observations of NEOs by performing close flybys of a series of NEOs at one of their nodal points, with pairs of small spacecraft flying in formation. The paper presents a preliminary assessment of accessible asteroids and multi-target tour trajectories from data available in the JPL small-body database. The main instruments on board each spacecraft are a camera and a LIDAR which together can be used for orbit determination, sur-face imaging, direct asteroid ranging and asteroid mass estimation via intersatellite ranging. The paper provides a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the measurable quantities during each flyby. In particular, the feasibility of a novel method of NEO mass estimation is assessed.


Walker, Lewis, Di Carlo, Marilena ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5046-3028, Greco, Cristian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5996-2114, Vasile, Massimiliano ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8302-6465 and Warden, Matthew;