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Design of Spacecraft Missions to Test Kinetic Impact for Asteroid DeflectionThere are currently over 8,000 known near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), and more are being discovered on a continual basis. More than 1,200 of these are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) because their Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) with Earth's orbit is <= 0.05 AU and their estimated diameters are >= 150 m. To date, 178 Earth impact structures have been discovered, indicating that our planet has previously been struck with devastating force by NEAs and will be struck again. Such collisions are aperiodic events and can occur at any time. A variety of techniques have been proposed to defend our planet from NEA impacts by deflecting the incoming asteroid. However, none of these techniques have been tested. Unless rigorous testing is conducted to produce reliable asteroid deflection systems, we will be forced to deploy completely untested -- and therefore unreliable -- deflection missions when a sizable asteroid on a collision course with Earth is discovered. Such missions will have a high probability of failure. We propose to address this problem with a campaign of deflection technology test missions deployed to harmless NEAs. The objective of these missions is to safely evaluate and refine the mission concepts and asteroid deflection system designs. Our current research focuses on the kinetic impactor, one of the simplest proposed asteroid deflection techniques in which a spacecraft is sent to collide with an asteroid at high relative velocity. By deploying test missions in the near future, we can characterize the performance of this deflection technique and resolve any problems inherent to its execution before needing to rely upon it during a true emergency. In this paper we present the methodology and results of our survey, including lists of NEAs for which safe and effective kinetic impactor test missions may be conducted within the next decade. Full mission designs are also presented for the NEAs which offer the best mission opportunities.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hernandez, Sonia (Texas Univ. Austin, TX, United States)
Barbee, Brent W. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2011
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
22nd AAS Space Flight Mechanics Meeting(Charleston, SC)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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