The study of asteroids is traditionally performed by means of large Earth based telescopes, by means of which orbital elements and spectral properties are acquired. Space borne research, has so far been limited to a few occasional flybys and a couple of dedicated flights to a single selected target. Although the telescope based research offers precise orbital information, it is limited to the brighter, larger objects, and taxonomy as well as morphology resolution is limited. Conversely, dedicated missions offer detailed surface mapping in radar, visual, and prompt gamma, but only for a few selected targets. The dilemma obviously being the resolution versus distance and the statistics versus DeltaV requirements. Using advanced instrumentation and onboard autonomy, we have developed a space mission concept whose goal is to map the flux, size, and taxonomy distributions of asteroids. The main focus is on main belt objects, but the mission profile will enable mapping of objects inside the Earth orbit as well.
New York Academy of Sciences. Annals, 2004, Vol 1017, Issue 328-349
asteroid mission concept; small vehicle; Bering
Main Research Area:
Conference on New Trends in Astrodynamics and Applications, 2004