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.

28 June 2012

B612 Foundation's Sentinel Private Space Telescope Announcement

The B612 Foundation has updated their website in preparation for their announcement of their private Space Telescope project. Their web page has multiple updates, including a press kit with an overview presentation and data sheet.

- Features of their telescope:
• Most capable NEO detection system in operation
• 200 deg anti-sun Field of Regard, with a 2×5.5 deg Field of View at any point in time: scans 165 square degrees per hour looking for moving objects
• Precise pointing accuracy to sub-pixel resolution for imaging revisit, using the detector fine steering capability
• Designed for highly autonomous, reliable operation requiring only weekly ground contact
• Designed for 5.5 years of surveying operations. Actively cooled to 40k using a Ball Aerospace two-stage, closed-cycle Stirling-cycle cryocooler
• Ability to follow-up on objects of interest

More information on their telescope specifications:
- Launch Information: 2017-2018 with multiple opportunities, Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9, Direct ascent into interplanetary trajectory
- Orbit: 0.6 by 0.8 AU Venus-like elliptical orbit
- Mission Life: 5.5 years, Design and consumables support multi-year mission extension
- Spacecraft Size, Mass and Power: 7.7 m (25.4 ft) tall x 3.2 m (10.5 ft) across; 1,500 kg (3,300 Ibs), 2.0 kW solar array, 24 Ahr battery
- Instrument: 2.0 kW solar array, 24 Ahr battery , 50 cm telescope, 5-10.4 mm wavelength range, HgCdTe detectors cooled to 40 K, 24 million pixels, Field of View: 11 deg2, Sky Coverage Rate: 165 square degrees per hour
- Attitude Determination and Control: 3-axis stabilized, Actuators: reaction wheels, thrusters, Sensors: Star trackers, IMU,  Astrometric Accuracy: 0.2 arc seconds, Angular Velocity Accuracy: 4.5 arcseconds per hour
- Onboard storage: 96 GB
- Communications: Small Deep Space Transponder, Science Downlink: 1.5 meter high-gain antenna,Command and Telemetry: Medium-and low-gain antenna

Some highlights from new articles (Alan Boyle at MSNBC, preceding the B612 Foundation announcement on their private asteroid telescope...

To track more asteroids, the foundation proposes launching the Sentinel Space Telescope, a 1.5-ton, 25-foot-tall (7.7-meter-tall) observatory that draws upon design features from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Kepler planet-hunting probe. Ball Aerospace was involved in both those earlier space projects, and would be the prime contractor for the Sentinel.

The craft would carry a 20-inch (50-centimeter) telescope with an infrared imager.

Lu said the telescope's design has been nearly completed under the leadership of mission director Harold Reitsema, an astronomer who recently retired from Ball Aerospace. Negotiations are currently under way with Ball Aerospace on a  fixed-price contract to build the Sentinel, Lu said. He declined to be specific on the mission cost because of those negotiations.

The mission plan calls for the craft to be launched on a Falcon 9 into a slightly elliptical orbit between Earth and Venus.

From that vantage point, the Sentinel could look out toward the vicinity of Earth's orbit with the sun behind it — which would be ideal for spotting space rocks like 2012 LZ1. Image data would be beamed down to NASA's Deep Space Network and passed along to the mission's data operations center at the Laboratory for Space Physics in Boulder, Colo. Newly identified asteroids would be reported to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, in accordance with existing procedures, and the orbital data would be analyzed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to assess potential hazards.

The B612 Foundation said it signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA on June 19 in support of the mission. The foundation has also been in contact with SpaceX's engineers to discuss technical details for the anticipated launch, Lu said.

Lu pointed out that the estimated cost of the mission, amounting to a few hundred million dollars, was comparable to the cost of building a performing arts center, a museum, or a planetarium like the one where today's briefing was being held.

Link: MSNBC Article

Link: Article

22 June 2012

NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group Meeting #7, July 10-11, Pasadena CA

Message from the organizers about the upcoming 7th Meeting of the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) will be at the Westin Pasadena Hotel in Pasadena, CA.

Registration is now open. Go to:

The agenda and other information will be posted at the SBAG website shortly:

Topics will include discussions of:
- Small Bodies Roadmap status-
- Strategic Knowledge Gaps for the "Asteroid First" Human Exploration Scenario
- Strategic Knowledge Gaps Associated with Potential Human Missions to the Martian System
- Corporate Initiatives Finding and
- Accessing Small Bodies Data in the NASA PDS

19 June 2012

B612 Foundation To Announce First Privately Funded Deep Space Mission

From the B612 Foundation Media Advisory...


Who: The B612 Foundation

What: Press Conference to Launch the B612 Foundation and Sentinel Space Telescope Mission-the first privately funded deep space mission.

When: Thursday, June 28, 2012 --- 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM (PT)

Where: Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA, in Golden Gate Park. (Pay Parking in CA Academy Garage)

Announcement: On June 28, 2012, the B612 Foundation will announce its plans to build, operate and launch the world’s first privately funded deep space mission–a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun.  We will create the first comprehensive dynamic map of our inner solar system showing the current and future locations and trajectories of Earth-crossing asteroids, paving the way to protect the Earth from future impacts and opening up the Solar System to future exploration.  

Speakers at the June 28 Press Conference:

Ed Lu, Chairman & CEO,former Space Shuttle/ISS/Soyuz Astronaut
Rusty Schweickart, Chairman Emeritus,Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 9
Scott Hubbard, Project Architect,Stanford University, former Dir., NASA Ames
Harold Reitsema, Mission Director,former Dir. Science Mission Dev., Ball Aerospace

The B612 Foundation ( aims to build, launch, and operate the world’s first privately funded deep space telescope mission to create the first comprehensive dynamic map of our inner solar system, identifying the current and future locations and trajectories of Earth crossing asteroids. Mapping the great unknown of the inner solar system is the first step to opening up this next frontier.  The B612 Foundation believes that humanity can harness the power of science and technology to protect the future of civilization on this planet, while extending our reach into the solar system.

Please contact Diane Murphy to set up one-on-one interviews with B612 Foundation speakers

Media Contact: Diane Murphy ( T. +1.202.361.9681

15 June 2012

NASA Releases Workshop Data And Findings On Asteroid 2011 AG5

A recent NASA workshop has indicated that Asteroid 2011 AG5, a 140 m wide asteroid discovered in early 2011, has a very small chance (0.2%) that it could impact the Earth in February 2040. Attendees expressed confidence that in the next four years, analysis of space and ground-based observations will show the likelihood of 2011 AG5 missing Earth to be greater than 99 percent.

There is a NASA news release on this workshop. Here are several PDF documents from the workshop at NASA Goddard: Asteroid 2011 AG5 Documents (May-June 2012)

JPL Report on 2011 AG5
The Executive Summary of the JPL Report on 2011 AG5
The Consensus Summary for the Goddard Workshop held on May 29, 2012

Orbit and current location (6/15/2012) of asteroid 2011 AG5. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 (Source: Lindley Johnson, NASA HQ NEO Office)
 (Source: JPL Report on 2011 AG5)
Fig. 8. A “keyhole map” for 2011 AG5 in the 2023 b-plane (Source: JPL Report on 2011 AG5)

Summary of Findings from the workshop:

Summary of Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Workshop Findings
Held 29 May, 2012, at Goddard Space Flight Center

• Near Earth Object 2011 AG5 is a Potentially Hazard Asteroid (PHA) discovered by the NASA supported Catalina Sky Survey on January 8, 2011. Due to the limited observations collected on this object to date, within the current uncertainty of the asteroid’s predicted orbit positions is a 0.2% chance that asteroid 2011 AG5 could impact the Earth in February 2040. Should such an impact occur, the estimated 140 meter-sized asteroid could create an energy release roughly equal to 100 megatons TNT.

• The 2040 impact would occur only if the asteroid first passes through a 365 kilometer region in space, called a “keyhole”, as it passes within a few million kilometers of Earth during February 2023. There is likewise only a 0.2% chance of this occurring, given our current understanding of its orbit.

• The asteroid is currently unobservable as it is in the daytime sky, but when it becomes easily observable again in Fall 2013, the data expected to be collected will improve our computation of its orbit and could drop the position uncertainty at the 2040 Earth-encounter from its current area of over 200 Earth diameters down to 2-3 Earth diameters. Additional observations expected in 2015-2020 could reduce this uncertainty further.
- Observations of the asteroid earlier than Fall 2013 would be useful, but the object is small, distant and spends much of the time until then on the opposite side of the Sun. Only the largest ground and space telescopes have even a fleeting opportunity to observe it.

• Using observations from Fall 2013 to improve 2011 AG5’s orbit has a 95% chance of eliminating the 2040 impact scenario, while further observations in 2015-2016 could drive that to ~99% eliminated.

• On the other hand, in the very unlikely case where the asteroid is actually on an Earth impacting trajectory, the 2013 observations could find the computed impact chance rising to 10% - 15%, and the observations in 2015 – 2016 could find it rising further, to ~70%. Only additional observations in 2013 and 2015 will increase the accuracy of these predictions.

• An impactor spacecraft could be an effective means of deflecting 2011 AG5 to avert an Earth collision. It is desirable to also have a rendezvous spacecraft on station at the asteroid at least a few months before the deflection in order to characterize the object, ease the targeting challenges for the impactor spacecraft, and to provide early confirmation of the magnitude of the deflection. This rendezvous spacecraft could be equipped with a gravity tractor capability as a backup to the impactor spacecraft.

• Many viable mission options exist for carrying out a pre-keyhole (before 2023) deflection campaign for 2011 AG5, using either chemical or solar electric propulsion (SEP) spacecraft, with launches in the 2018-2020 timeframe.

• Viable mission options also exist for carrying out a post-keyhole (after 2023) deflection using existing heavy lift launch vehicles and launch dates in the 2023 – 2030 timeframe.

• While much further study would be required to design optimal pre- and post- keyhole rendezvous and impact missions, this short study has demonstrated that numerous viable deflection mission options are available in the event that the 2011 AG5 is actually on a trajectory leading to a 2040 Earth impact.

• In the unlikely event that observations made in Fall 2013 show a significant increase in the Earth impact probability, there is still sufficient time to plan and carry out a successful deflection campaign.

From the NASA news release...

Researchers anticipate that asteroid 2011 AG5, discovered in January 2011, will fly safely past and not impact Earth in 2040.

Current findings and analysis data were reported at a May 29 workshop at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., attended by scientists and engineers from around the world. Discussions focused on observations of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

Observations to date indicate there is a slight chance that AG5 could impact Earth in 2040. Attendees expressed confidence that in the next four years, analysis of space and ground-based observations will show the likelihood of 2011 AG5 missing Earth to be greater than 99 percent.

Measuring approximately 460 feet (140 meters) in size, the space rock was discovered by the NASA-supported Catalina Sky Survey operated by the University of Arizona in Tucson. Several observatories monitored 2011 AG5 for nine months before it moved too far away and grew too faint to see.

"While there is general consensus there is only a very small chance that we could be dealing with a real impact scenario for this object, we will still be watchful and ready to take further action if additional observations indicate it is warranted," said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observation Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Several years ago another asteroid, named Apophis, was thought to pose a similar impact threat in 2036. Additional observations taken from 2005 through 2008 enabled NASA scientists to refine their understanding of the asteroid's path, which showed a significantly reduced likelihood of a hazardous encounter.

"Any time we're able to observe an asteroid and obtain new location data, we're able to refine our calculations of the asteroid's future path," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's NEO Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "When few observations exist, our initial orbit calculation will include a wider swath to account for uncertainties. With more data points, the knowledge of the potential positions of the asteroid improves and the swath becomes smaller -- typically eliminating the risk of an impact."

Observations of 2011 AG5 have been limited to date because of its present location beyond the orbit of Mars and in the daytime sky on the other side of the sun. In fall 2013, conditions will improve to allow space- and ground-based telescopes to better track the asteroid's path. At that time, 2011 AG5 will be 91 million miles (147 million kilometers) from Earth but favorably located for observations in the late evening sky.

The level of hazard will gain even more clarity in 2023, when the asteroid is approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from Earth. If 2011 AG5 passes through a 227-mile-wide (365-kilometer) region in space called a keyhole in early February 2023, Earth's gravitational pull could influence the object's orbital path just enough to bring it back for an impact on February 5, 2040. If the asteroid misses the keyhole, an impact in 2040 will not occur.

"Given our current understanding of this asteroid's orbit, there is only a very remote chance of this keyhole passage even occurring," said Johnson.

Although scientists widely expect it to be a safe flyby, they acknowledge the slight chance that computed odds could rise as a result of observations to be taken from 2013 to 2016. According to the experts at the workshop, even if the odds do increase, there is still ample time to plan and carry out at least one of several viable missions to change the asteroid's course.

PHAs are a subset of the larger group of near-Earth asteroids. They have the closest orbits to Earth's, coming within 5 million miles (about 8 million kilometers). They are large enough to enter Earth's atmosphere intact and cause damage on at least a local scale. Damage from an asteroid the size of 2011 AG5 could cover a region at least a hundred miles wide.

NASA established the NEO Program in 1998 to coordinate the agency's efforts to detect, track and characterize Earth-approaching NEOs and comets larger than 1 kilometer in size. The program now also searches for NEOs as small as object 2011 AG5. NASA supports NEO observation, tracking and analysis activities worldwide. Activities are coordinated through the NEO Program Office at JPL.

Link: NASA News Announcement

Link: NASA JPL NEO Page Annoucement

Link: NASA NEO JPL Links to Report

12 June 2012

Various recent technical papers including on asteroid deflection and identification

Various recent technical papers including on asteroid deflection and identification.

Title: Design of a Formation of Solar Pumped Lasers for Asteroid Deflection
Author(s): Massimiliano Vasile, Chrisite Maddock

Abstract: This paper presents the design of a multi-spacecraft system for the deflection of asteroids. Each spacecraft is equipped with a fibre laser and a solar concentrator. The laser induces the sublimation of a portion of the surface of the asteroid. The jet of gas and debris thrusts the asteroid off its natural course. The main idea is to have a swarm of spacecraft flying in the proximity of the asteroid with all the spacecraft beaming to the same location to achieve the required deflection thrust. The paper presents the design of the formation orbits and the multi-objective optimization of the swarm in order to minimize the total mass in space and maximize the deflection of the asteroid. The paper demonstrates how significant deflections can be obtained with relatively small sized, easy-to-control spacecraft.
Link: arXiv:1206.1336v1
Link: PDF

Title: Evidence-Based Robust Design of Deflection Actions for Near Earth Objects
Author(s): Federico Zuiani, Massimiliano Vasile, Alison Gibbings

Abstract: This paper presents a novel approach to the robust design of deflection actions for Near Earth Objects (NEO). In particular, the case of deflection by means of Solar-pumped Laser ablation is studied here in detail. The basic idea behind Laser ablation is that of inducing a sublimation of the NEO surface, which produces a low thrust thereby slowly deviating the asteroid from its initial Earth threatening trajectory. This work investigates the integrated design of the Space-based Laser system and the deflection action generated by laser ablation under uncertainty. The integrated design is formulated as a multi-objective optimisation problem in which the deviation is maximised and the total system mass is minimised. Both the model for the estimation of the thrust produced by surface laser ablation and the spacecraft system model are assumed to be affected by epistemic uncertainties (partial or complete lack of knowledge). Evidence Theory is used to quantify these uncertainties and introduce them in the optimisation process. The propagation of the trajectory of the NEO under the laser-ablation action is performed with a novel approach based on an approximated analytical solution of Gauss' Variational Equations. An example of design of the deflection of asteroid Apophis with a swarm of spacecraft is presented
Link: PDF

Title: Characterizing Subpopulations within the Near Earth Objects with NEOWISE: Preliminary Results
Author(s): A. Mainzer, T. Grav, J. Masiero, J. Bauer, R. S. McMillan, J. Giorgini, T. Spahr, R. M. Cutri, D. J. Tholen, R. Jedicke, R. Walker, E. Wright, C. R. Nugent

Abstract: We present the preliminary results of an analysis of the sub-populations within the near-Earth asteroids, including the Atens, Apollos, Amors, and those that are considered potentially hazardous using data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). In order to extrapolate the sample of objects detected by WISE to the greater population, we determined the survey biases for asteroids detected by the project's automated moving object processing system (known as NEOWISE) as a function of diameter, visible albedo, and orbital elements. Using this technique, we are able to place constraints on the number of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) larger than 100 m and find that there are $\sim4700\pm1450$ such objects. As expected, the Atens, Apollos, and Amors are revealed by WISE to have somewhat different albedo distributions, with the Atens being brighter than the Amors. The cumulative size distributions of the various near-Earth object (NEO) subgroups vary slightly between 100 m and 1 km. A comparison of the observed orbital elements of the various sub-populations of the NEOs with the current best model is shown.
Link: arXiv:1205.3568v1
Link: PDF

Title: Density of asteroids
Author(s): Benoit Carry

Abstract: A considerable amount of information regarding the processes that occurred during the accretion of the early planetesimals is still present among the small bodies of our solar system. A review of our current knowledge of the density of small bodies is presented here. Intrinsic physical properties of small bodies are sought by searching for relationships between the dynamical and taxonomic classes, size, and density. Mass and volume estimates for 287 small bodies are collected from the literature. The accuracy and biases affecting the methods used to estimate these quantities are discussed and best-estimates are strictly selected. Bulk densities are subsequently computed and compared with meteorite density, allowing to estimate the macroporosity within these bodies. Dwarf-planets apparently have no macroporosity, while smaller bodies can have large voids. This trend is apparently correlated with size: C and S-complex asteroids tends to have larger density with increasing diameter. The average density of each Bus-DeMeo taxonomic classes is computed. S-complex asteroids are more dense on average than those in the C-complex that in turn have a larger macroporosity, although both complexes partly overlap. Within the C-complex, B-types stand out in albedo, reflectance spectra, and density, indicating a unique composition. Asteroids in the X-complex span a wide range of densities, suggesting that many compositions are included in the complex. Comets and TNOs have high macroporosity and low density, supporting the current models of internal structures made of icy aggregates. The number of density estimates sky-rocketed during last decade from a handful to 287, but only a third of the estimates are more precise than 20%. Several lines of investigation to refine this are contemplated, including observations of multiple systems, 3-D shape modeling, and orbital analysis from Gaia astrometry.
Link: arXiv:1203.4336v1
Link: PDF

Move An Asteroid 2012 Competition International Student and Young Professional Technical Paper Competition

An update on the Move An Asteroid 2012 Competition International Student and Young Professional Technical  Paper Competition administered by the Space Generation Advisory Council...

This competition challenges students and young professionals worldwide to come up with original ideas relating to Earth-threatening Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

The goal of this competition is to describe an innovative idea relating to one or more of these three areas:

- The safe deflection of an Earth-bound NEO -
- The detection of NEOs -
- A global impact warning system -

All papers will be judged by a panel of engineering experts and the winning entrant will receive a full sponsorship that includes round trip airfare, hotel, and conference registration costs to attend and give a presentation on their concept in Naples, Italy at both:

The Space Generation Congress (SGC) 2012 (27 Sep - 29 Sep)
The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2012 (1 Oct - 5 Oct)

Link: Move An Asteroid 2012

09 June 2012

Fiction Book from Edward M. Lerner on Space Solar Power Satellites

Edward M. Lerner has a new fiction book entitled "Energized" coming out in July 2012 on Solar Power Satellites and how they help humanity in a future energy crisis. Here are some details from

No one expected the oil to last forever. How right they were ....

A geopolitical miscalculation tainted the world's major oil fields with radioactivity and plunged the Middle East into chaos. Any oil that remains usable is more prized than ever. No one can build solar farms, wind farms, and electric cars quickly enough to cope. The few countries still able to export oil and natural gas -- Russia chief among them -- have a stranglehold on the world economy.

And then, from the darkness of space, came Phoebe. Rather than divert the onrushing asteroid, America captured it into Earth orbit.

Solar power satellites -- cheaply mass-produced in orbit with resources mined from the new moon, to beam vast amounts of power to the ground -- offer America its last, best hope of avoiding servitude and economic ruin.

As though building miles-across structures in space isn't challenging enough, special interests, from technophobes to eco-extremists to radio astronomers, want to stop the project. And the remaining petro powers will do anything to protect their newfound dominance of world affairs.

NASA engineer Marcus Judson is determined to make the powersat demonstration project a success. And he will -- even though nothing in his job description mentions combating an international cabal, or going into space to do it.

Link: ("Energized")

New Don Yeomans book ("Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us") on planetary defense coming out in November 2012

Donald K. Yeomans (Manager, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL) has a new book entitled "Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us" coming out in November 2012. Here are some details from

Of all the natural disasters that could befall us, only an Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid has the potential to end civilization in a single blow. Yet these near-Earth objects also offer tantalizing clues to our solar system's origins, and someday could even serve as stepping-stones for space exploration. In this book, Donald Yeomans introduces readers to the science of near-Earth objects--its history, applications, and ongoing quest to find near-Earth objects before they find us.

In its course around the sun, the Earth passes through a veritable shooting gallery of millions of nearby comets and asteroids. One such asteroid is thought to have plunged into our planet sixty-five million years ago, triggering a global catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs. Yeomans provides an up-to-date and accessible guide for understanding the threats posed by near-Earth objects, and also explains how early collisions with them delivered the ingredients that made life on Earth possible. He shows how later impacts spurred evolution, allowing only the most adaptable species to thrive--in fact, we humans may owe our very existence to objects that struck our planet.

Yeomans takes readers behind the scenes of today's efforts to find, track, and study near-Earth objects. He shows how the same comets and asteroids most likely to collide with us could also be mined for precious natural resources like water and oxygen, and used as watering holes and fueling stations for expeditions to Mars and the outermost reaches of our solar system.

Link: ("Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us")

Call for Papers for 2013 Planetary Defense Conference Near Meteor Crater, AZ USA (Theme: Gathering for Impact!”)

The preliminary website and call for papers for the 2013 IAA Planetary Defense Conference has been released. The conference will be 15-19 April 2013 in Flagstaff, Arizona (near Meteor Crater). This a continuation of the Planetary Defense conferences that have been held in the past few years (in 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2011). Here is more information on the 2011 conference (presentation from Bill Ailor) and the 2011 conference website.

From the IAA website for the 2013 Planetary Defense Conference...

Papers are solicited for the 2013 IAA Planetary Defense Conference sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and The Aerospace Corporation (information on sponsorships is available at ). The theme for the conference is “Gathering for Impact!”

Papers are solicited in the following areas:

Potentially Hazardous Objects – Recent Progress
· Current funded projects
· Discovery statistics and projections (ground-based & space-based)
· Orbital refinements including non-gravitational effects and keyholes
· Lessons learned from recent discoveries and close approaches
· Physical characterization that informs mitigation

Discovery and Tracking Resources and Plans
· Program status and plans (e.g., NASA’s NEO program, ESA’s SSA program)
· Survey completion estimates; ground-based and space-based surveys
· The status of next generation surveys (e.g., PanSTARRS and LSST)
· The discovery and tracking of 50-meter class PHOs
· Threat evolution with time – refining the threat
· Advancements in utilizing archival and historical data

Impacts, Consequences and Education
· Information from the geological record and recent history
· Consequences of ocean and land impacts
· Planning for a short or no warning time event
· Public/media education on NEO detection, impact effects, mitigation missions, impact warnings

Mission & Campaign Planning & Technologies
· Mission and campaign designs aimed at deflection/disruption, and related to their TRL.
· Human and robotic campaigns that inform all three NEO issues: science, exploration and planetary defense
· Decision tree, timelines and decision-to-act criteria (e.g., Impact probability thresholds)
· What do we do if a threat is detected tomorrow?

Disaster Mitigation
· Actual local, regional, international disasters that provide insights for NEO impact warning and mitigation
· Current international agreements and coordination activities
· Organizing and managing an international effort noting the consequences of false alarms
· Impact of public opinion on decision to act and choice of mitigation method

Moving Forward on Planetary Defense
· Funding levels and priority actions to build and maintain readiness
· Current national and international funded activities that support planetary defense

Link: International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) website for the 2012 IAA Planetary Defense Conference

08 June 2012

Russian KAPKAN and KAISSA Asteroid Intercept Mission Design

From a presentation last year from V.G.Degtyar, V.A.Volkov, S.T.Kalashnikov on the Russian KAPKAN and KAISSA mission design for observation, penetration, and nuclear mitigation spacecraft approaches. The spacecraft are defined as follows:

Universal spacecraft (UKA), containing one or more impact modules capable to break a HSO or decline its orbit

Reconnaissance space vehicle containing one or more information modules planned to be used to
analyze the structure and composition of a hazardous asteroid on the trajectory of its motion

Within the last 15 years GRTs “Academician V.P. Makeyev Design Bureau" in cooperation with scientific community of the Ural and Siberian Branches of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been carrying out initiative researches pursuing the aim to create a national (global) system of protection against asteroids and comets. The following activities are under way to create a rocket component of the national system in the short term (10-15 years):
− studies of payload performance and accuracy of the available and future rocket complexes for launching potential aids impacting on Hazardous Space Objects (HSOs);
− studies of power-and-mass characteristics and parameters of injection of the power modules capable to counteract the HSOs or to decline their trajectories with eco-friendly means or to destroy them into fragments that will burn in the atmosphere;
− studies of the efficiency of various scenarios for protection against asteroids and comets.

Link: PDF

A little more information from a UPI article...

Makeyev State Missile Center officials warn that foreign cooperation could undercut Russian space programs.

Rising cooperation with the European Union has sidelined some Russian projects, particularly the future medium-class, enhanced-load rocket booster under development in Amur Oblast, said Makeyev State Missile Center General Director and Designer Vladimir Degtyar.

"It was very unfortunate that this effort was suspended," he said.

However, he said the Russians were participating in the European Union's 7th Framework Program for Space.

"To address the danger of asteroids, we have completed a draft concept for developing two spacecraft, the Kaissa and the Kapkan," Degtyar said. "The Kaissa is the scout and the Kapkan is the interceptor.

"Right now we are readying our proposals for the scope of financing for the Kapkan spacecraft's pilot project, Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kurier reported.

The Makeyev State Missile Center is the Russian Federation's leading developer and manufacturer of liquid-fuel, submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

07 June 2012

British Astronomical Association Meeting on Observing Asteroids and Comets (06 Oct 2012)

From a Minor Planet Mailing List (mpml) post...

A joint meeting of the Comet Section and Asteroids and Remote
Planets Section of the BAA

at 10.00-17.00 hrs on Saturday, 2012 October 6
at the Berrill Lecture Theatre, Berrill Building, The Open University,
Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom

Topics to include:

* Methods in common for observing asteroids and comets
* Discovering comets and asteroids
* Comets masquerading as asteroids
* Asteroids masquerading as comets
* Water ice in asteroids
* Short contributions from members

In addition, there will be keynote lectures by:

Dr Simon Green of The Open University
Dr Stephen Lowry and Dr Sam Duddy
of The University of Kent, Canterbury

Anyone wishing to contribute a short talk should contact Richard Miles or Guy

Travel directions to the Berrill Building can be found at:
along with a map of the campus at:

More details of the programme will be made available in August.

Richard Miles
arps [at]

Guy Hurst
guy [at]

British Astronomical Association

Link: Minor Planet Center Post

05 June 2012

Report: New Report: Hazardous Near Earth Objects - Communicating the Risk

New report from the Secure World Foundation on NEO Hazard Communication. Highlights from their news release...

To deal with potentially hazardous Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that could strike the Earth, there is need to establish an effective international communications strategy - but doing so is a daunting task, one that demands effective use of mass communication tools. That key view is addressed in The Near Earth Object Media/Risk Communications Working Group Report issued by Secure World Foundation. The report and its findings are being presented this week to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and its Action Team-14 on NEOs during the 55th session of the UN COPUOS being held in Vienna, Austria. The report stems from a two-day meeting held in November 2011, convened by Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). Nearly 40 scientists, reporters, risk communication specialists and SWF staff participating in the meeting, held at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), Boulder, Colorado. The meeting concentrated on assisting the United Nations Action Team-14 (UN AT-14) on NEOs in its deliberations about the makeup and focus of an Information, Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN), designed to gather and analyze NEO data and provide timely warnings to national authorities should a potentially hazardous NEO threaten Earth.

Link: Press Release ("New Report: Hazardous Near Earth Objects - Communicating the Risk") Link: article

02 June 2012

Video Animation of Planned Japanese Hayabusa 2 Mission

Video animation presented by Hitoshi Kuninaka from JAXA at the recent ISDC on future Japanes Hayabusa 2 asteroid mission:

 Link: Twitvid

Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) Mission Design: Joint ESA, JHU/APL, NASA, OCA and DLR Architecture

This was recently presented at the IAF/AIAA Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX). Selections from an article by ESA...

The Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission is a joint effort of ESA, JHU/APL, NASA, OCA and DLR. The mission design foresees two independent spacecraft, one impactor (DART) and one rendezvous probe (AIM). As in the separate DART and AIM studies, the target of this mission is the binary asteroid system Didymos. For a successful joint mission, one spacecraft, DART, would impact the secondary of the Didymos binary system while AIM would observe and measure any the change in the relative orbit. The AIDA rendezvous spacecraft would be under responsibility of ESA.

ESA's Future Preparation and Strategy Studies Office commissioned a preliminary assessment at the Agency’s Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) in April 2012. The study concentrates on the design of a rendezvous mission. ESA’s spacecraft would arrive before APL’s impactor spacecraft in order to characterise the binary asteroid, and have the chance to observe the impact as well as the resulting ejecta and crater. The main objectives of the AIDA orbiter are:

- Determine binary asteroid orbital and rotation state
- Analyse size, mass and shape of both binary asteroid components
- Analyse geology and surface properties

The assessment considered two concepts (DART and AIM) that have been developed as two self standing missions. Joining the two missions will bring additional value, given by addressing the following supplementary objective for the rendezvous spacecraft:

- Observe the impact crater and derive collision and impact properties

Link: ESA Article

Recent Planetary Defense Related Technical Papers

Title: Development of a handbook and an on-line tool on defending Earth against Potentially Hazardous Objects
Author(s): Nahum Melamed, The Aerospace Corporation Received 3 February 2012. Accepted 21 March 2012.
Available online 23 April 2012.

Title: Hypervelocity nuclear interceptors for asteroid disruption
Author(s): B. Wie Vance Coffman Endowed Chair Professor, Asteroid Deflection Research Center, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Iowa State University Received 14 February 2012. Accepted 16 April 2012. Available online 4 May 2012.

Title: Deflecting earth-threatening asteroids using the solar collector: An improved model
Author(s): Gregory L. Matloff, Physics Department, New York City College of Technology, CUNY Received 22 November 2011. Revised 24 April 2012. Accepted 27 April 2012. Available online 29 May 2012.

Title: A comparison between rubble-pile and monolithic targets in impact simulations: Application to asteroid satellites and family size distributions
Author(s): Paula G. Benavideza, Daniel D. Durda, Brian L. Enke, William F. Bottke, David Nesvorn√Ĺ, Derek C. Richardson, Erik Asphaug, William J. Merline Received 29 March 2011. Revised 18 January 2012. Accepted 19 January 2012. Available online 17 February 2012.

Title: Next Gen NEAR: Near Earth Asteroid Human Robotic Precursor Mission Concept
Author(s): Rivkin, Andrew S.; Kirby, Karen; Cheng, Andrew F.; Gold, Robert; Kelly, Daniel; Reed, Cheryl; Abell, Paul; Garvin, James; Landis, Rob Link: NASA Technical Reports Server
Link: PDF

Title: Comparing the Earth impact flux from comets and near-Earth asteroids
Author(s): Donald K. Yeomans, Alan B. Chamberlin, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology Received 20 January 2012. Revised 13 February 2012. Accepted 6 March 2012. Available online 5 April 2012.

Title: Finding Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Destinations for Human Exploration: Implications for Astrobiology
Author(s): Abell, P. A.; Mazanek, D. D.; Barbee, B. W.; Mink, R. G.; Landis, R. R.; Adamo, D. R.; Johnson, L. N.; Yeomans, D. K.; Reeves, D. M.; Larman, K. T.; Drake, B. G.; Friedensen, V. P.
Link: NASA Technical Reports Server
Link: PDF

Title: Human Missions to Near-Earth Asteroids: An Update on NASA's Current Status and Proposed Activities for Small Body Exploration
Author(s): Abell, P. A.; Mazanek, D. D.; Barbee, B. W.; Mink, R. G.; Landis, R. R.; Adamo, D. R.; Johnson, L. N.; Yeomans, D. K.; Reeves, D. M.; Larman, K. T.; Drake, B. G.; Friedensen, V. P.
Link: NASA Technical Reports Server
Link: PDF

Title: Human Mission to Asteroids in the Context of Future Space Exploration Studies
Author(s): P. Messidoro, F. Fenoglio, M. Pasquinelli, and J. Gottlieb, Thales Alenia Space Italia S.p.A.
Link: PDF
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