This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

11 January 2010

Article: NASA’s Flexible Path evaluation of 2025 human mission to visit an asteroid

Selections from the article...

NASA managers have created an evaluation and roadmap for a potential human mission to visit the 1999 AO10 Near Earth Object (NEO) as early as 2025, as part of their options under the Flexible Path approach to the future of Human Space Flight. The mission would focus on using the International Space Station (ISS) as a testbed, with the ultimate focus on eventually heading to Mars.

However, the internal 65 page Flexible Path presentation – available on L2 – presented several possible directions NASA may take under the Augustine Commission’s Flexible Path option, including the outlining of a NEO mission in the mid-2020s, a full five to six years after the original target date to return to the moon, as outlined in the Vision of Space Exploration (VSE) – which is no longer seen as achievable.

Further information on the number of NEOs and PHOs will be forthcoming via “Next Generation Surveys such as LSST & Pan-STARRS, along with current on-going surveys, (which) expect to find many more NEOs and PHOs. The next generation surveys includes: Tracking (for better orbit determination). Characterization (taxonomy, minerals, volatiles, etc.). NEO-WISE is expected to find a few hundred NEOs in the next year.”

Based on the NEOs of interest – ones which are potential targets for a sending an expedition to visit – NASA has estimated 39 are accessible “based on a flight system assumptions consistent with a single Ares V-class launch.”

These targets have been generated from a list of NEOs already identified as accessible by human missions lasting up to a year, along with the viable outbound transit time for typical robotic missions to the same targets – resulting in multiple opportunities for human missions, and multiple opportunities also for precursor robotic missions in earlier years.

The scenario that was chosen for the purpose of the proposal to visit a NEO, targets the NEO “1999 AO10″ – which holds three human launch opportunities in 2025, 2026 and 2032 – with three robotic precursor opportunities in 2019, 2020, or 2021.

For the scenario used by the Flexible Path presentation, a five to six month long duration flight is installed into the roadmap for the human expedition to the asteroid, and importantly is classed as a vital element of the overall mission – countering claims that robotics can carry out all the requirements of the mission on their own.

“A robotic precursor would have been conducted ~4 years prior to a human NEO mission. A typical piloted “sprint” mission would be ~155 days in duration,” continued the presentation.

“Instruments would include teleoperated rovers or hoppers (multiple trips to/from surface); multi-wavelength radar system (HGA could be used to perform radar tomography of the NEO to obtain internal structure); and small instrument packages for precision deployment by the crew during EVA or with a robotic rover system.

“The human crew would provide: adaptability and ingenuity to deal with complex issues in real time; direct interaction with the surface via a variety of methods; and wide-ranging E/PO activities including HD video of humans at another world.”

Link: SpaceflightNow Article

1 comment:

  1. Does anybody know where asteroid 1999 AO10 is? Nobody has seen it since February 1999.


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