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Finding Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Destinations for Human Exploration: Implications for Astrobiology
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Author and Affiliation:
Landis, Rob(NASA Wallops Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA, United States);
Abell, Paul(NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States);
Barbee, Brent(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States);
Johnson, Lindley(NASA, Washington, DC, United States)
Abstract: The current number of known potential NEA targets for HSF is limited to those objects whose orbital characteristics are similar to that of the Earth. This is due to the projected capabilities of the exploration systems currently under consideration and development at NASA. However, NEAs with such orbital characteristics often have viewing geometries that place them at low solar elongations and thus are difficult to detect from the vicinity of Earth. While ongoing ground-based surveys and data archives maintained by the NEO Program Observation Program Office and the Minor Planet Center (MPC) have provided a solid basis upon which to build, a more complete catalog of the NEO population is required to inform a robust and sustainable HSF exploration program. Since all the present NEO observing assets are currently confined to the vicinity of the Earth, additional effort must be made to provide capabilities for detection of additional HSF targets via assets beyond Earth orbit. A space-based NEO survey telescope located beyond the vicinity of the Earth, has considerable implications for planetary science and astrobiology. Such a telescope will provide foundational knowledge of our Solar System small body population and detect targets of interest for both the HSF and scientific communities. Data from this asset will yield basic characterization data on the NEOs observed (i.e., albedo, size determination, potential for volatiles and organics, etc.) and help down select targets for future HSF missions. Ideally, the most attractive targets from both HSF and astrobiology perspectives are those NEAs that may contain organic and volatile materials, and which could be effectively sampled at a variety of locations and depths. Presented here is an overview of four space-based survey concepts; any one of which after just a few years of operation will discover many highly accessible NEO targets suitable for robotic and human exploration. Such a space-based survey mission will reveal incredible returns for several disciplines including: exploration, in situ resource utilization, planetary defense, and science. Of particular, interest to the scientific
Publication Date: Apr 16, 2012
Document ID:
20120003234
(Acquired Mar 14, 2012)
Subject Category: SPACE SCIENCES (GENERAL)
Report/Patent Number: JSC-CN-25868, GSFC.ABS.6318.2012
Document Type: Extended Abstract
Meeting Information: NASA 2012 Astrobiology Science Conference; 16-20 Apr. 2012; Atlanta, GA; United States
Meeting Sponsor: NASA; Washington, DC, United States
Financial Sponsor: NASA Johnson Space Center; Houston, TX, United States
Organization Source: NASA Johnson Space Center; Houston, TX, United States
Description: 2p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
NASA Terms: EARTH ORBITS; ASTEROIDS; COMETS; EXOBIOLOGY; ORGANIC MATERIALS; IN SITU RESOURCE UTILIZATION; SOLAR SYSTEM; SURVEYS; TARGETS
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