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.

31 October 2007

What is a Screw Rocket and how can I use it to move an asteroid?

I ran across this recent paper on the use of screw-rockets for asteroid deflection. Screw rockets seem similar to nuclear powered mass deflection, which is a concept that SEI has examined, notably of multiple mass drivers. Interesting that it was submitted for the Chinese Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Note: The SEI MADMEN concept is not referenced in the paper.

Asteroid Deflection: How, where and when?
Authors: D. Fargion
(Submitted on 12 May 2007 (v1), last revised 3 Sep 2007 (this version, v3))
Chin. J. Astron. Astrophys. Vol. 0, No. 0, (200x) 000–000
Chinese Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics

To deflect impact-trajectory of massive km^3 and spinning asteroid by a few terrestrial radius one need a large momentum exchange. The dragging of huge spinning bodies in space by external engine seems difficult or impossible. Our solution is based on the landing of multi screw-rockets, powered by mini-nuclear engines, on the body, that dig a small fraction of the soil surface, to use as an exhaust propeller, ejecting it vertically in phase among themselves. Such a mass ejection increases the momentum exchange, their number redundancy guarantees the stability of the system. The slow landing (below 40 cm s^-1) of each engine-unity at those lowest gravity field, may be achieved by save rolling and bouncing along the surface. The engine array tuned activity, overcomes the asteroid angular velocity. Coherent turning of the jet heads increases the deflection efficiency. A procession along its surface may compensate at best the asteroid spin. A small skin-mass (about 2 10^4 tons) may be ejected by mini nuclear engines. Such prototypes may also build first save galleries for humans on the Moon. Conclusive deflecting tests might be performed on remote asteroids. The incoming asteroid 99942 Apophis (just 2% of km^3) may be deflected safely a few Earth radius. How to tag its trajectory is described. Its encounter maybe not just a hazard but an opportunity, learning how to land, dig, build and also to nest save human station inside. Asteroids amplified deflections by gravity swing maybe driven into longest planetary journeys.

Link: Abstract

Link: PDF of Paper

Link: SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) paper on multiple mass drivers for asteroid deflection (from the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference)

Link: SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) presentation on multiple mass drivers for asteroid deflection (from the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference)

Debunking Asteroid Impact Fears

"Asteroid 1999 AN10 is predicted to come close to Earth in 2027 and 2039. NASA doesn’t think that it will hit. However there is evidence that it will - from the Bible."

Really? Well BadAstronomy takes the claims from the website and examines them in further depth.

Link: BadAstronomy Article

30 October 2007

Popular Science Article on Human Missions to NEOs

From the article...

Here we are, nearly eight years into the 21st century, and the most spectacular manned mission NASA can pull off is a trip to the International Space Station, a mere 210 miles above the Earth. Even the most ambitious part of NASA's current plans for human spaceflight involves visiting a celestial body we've already been to: the moon. Astronauts, space buffs and an unimpressed public hunger for space exploration that's more dramatic, more heroic, more new. Something like, say, landing astronauts on a distant rock hurtling through space at 15 miles per second.

"NASA's New Target: A manned mission to an asteroid sounds far-fetched, but a new study says it will soon be possible"
Dawn Stover
October 2007
Popular Science

Link: Article

New Apophis Analysis: Predicting Apophis' Earth Encounters in 2029 and 2036

From the article:

Researchers at NASA/JPL, Caltech, and Arecibo Observatory have released the results of radar observations of the potentially hazardous asteroid 99942 Apophis, along with an in-depth analysis of its motion. The research will affect how and when scientists measure, predict, or consider modifying the asteroid's motion. The paper has been accepted for publication in the science journal "Icarus" and was presented at the AAS/DPS conference in Orlando, Florida in October of 2007.

The analysis of Apophis previews situations likely to be encountered with NEAs yet to be discovered: a close approach that is not dangerous (like Apophis in 2029) nonetheless close enough to obscure the proximity and the danger of a later approach (like Apophis in 2036) by amplifying trajectory prediction uncertainties caused by difficult-to-observe physical characteristics interacting with solar radiation as well as other factors.

Link: Paper

Link: JPL NEO Site Article

25 October 2007

NEO News (10/25/07) Amazing Comet Holmes

Note: The following is the 10/25/07 Edition of NEO News, an email newsletter distributed by David Morrison.

NEO News (10/25/07) Amazing Comet Holmes

This is a special note to alert you to something you may want to see, especially if you have access to a small telescope.

Approximately 36 hours ago Comet Holmes (a normally inconspicuous Jupiter-family comet with aphelion at the orbit of Jupiter and perihelion at 2.2 AU) brightened by almost a million-fold. This is equivalent to the planet Saturn suddenly becoming as bright as the full moon. On October 23-24, Comet Holmes went from magnitude 17 to magnitude 2.8 in just a few hours, doubling in brightness every half hour. At its discovery in 1892, this comet also underwent a similar sudden brightening, presumably due to a very large ejection of gas and dust.

The comet is now easily visible to the naked eye as a bright yellow "star" in the constellation Perseus. For northern hemisphere observers, it can be seen almost all night, passing nearly overhead. A good source for the latest information is the Sky & Telescope webpage or at The best finding chart I have seen is on the Netherlands webpage

I looked at the comet about midnight last night from the balcony of my urban townhouse. It was about magnitude three, and at low telescopic power it was conspicuous as a bright yellowish disk, looking almost like a planet. At moderate power the disk resolved into a very bright inner coma and a slightly asymmetric fainter outer cloud, but no tail was visible. I have never before seen anything like it.

David Morrison

NEO News (now in its thirteenth year of distribution) is an informal compilation of news and opinion dealing with Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and their impacts. These opinions are the responsibility of the individual authors and do not represent the positions of NASA, the International Astronomical Union, or any other organization. To subscribe (or unsubscribe) contact For additional information, please see the website If anyone wishes to copy or redistribute original material from these notes, fully or in part, please include this disclaimer.

23 October 2007

NEO News (10/23/07) Marco Polo, Dawn, Workshop, Congress, DPS

Note: The following is the 10/23/07 Edition of NEO News, an email newsletter distributed by David Morrison.

NEO News (10/23/07) Marco Polo, Dawn, Workshop, Congress, DPS


The European Space Agency has announced the results of its Cosmic Visions 2015-2025 call for proposals. Fifty space science missions for the next decade were proposed, with just seven selected. They range from X-ray and far-infrared observatories to planet finders and a near-earth asteroid sample return mission. These seven, together with the LISA gravitational wave observatory, will go ahead for further study in the next few years, and then two will be chosen for launch in 2015-2017. The asteroid mission, called Marco Polo, is a sample-return mission to a near-Earth object (NEO), Marco Polo would characterize a NEO at multiple scales and return a sample. If approved, the mission would study the origins and evolution of the Solar System, the role of minor bodies in the process, origins and evolution of Earth and of life itself. It would consist of a mother satellite which would carry a lander, sampling devices, reentry capsule as well as instruments. If approved, the mission would be implemented in collaboration with JAXA (perhaps combined with the Hayabusa Mark 2).

The ESA NEA mission Don Quijote, which has been studied for several years as a technology demonstration, is shifting to an orbiter mission called SANCHO, with Spain taking the lead in its development. It might be possible later, however, to restore the small surface package and/or the high-speed impactor originally proposed for Don Quijote through partnerships with other space agencies.


The Dawn spacecraft successfully launched at 7:34 am EDT on September 27, 2007. On October 9, it successfully tested its ion propulsion system. With its solar electric propulsion operating, Dawn is set to travel over the next 8 years to Vesta and Ceres, the two largest maIn belt asteroids, orbiting each asteroid. Dawn is a NASA Discovery mission, with Chris Russell of UCLA as PI and JPL as managing NASA Center.

Dawn will begin its exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to much of our solar system's history. By utilizing the same set of instruments at two separate destinations, scientists can more accurately formulate comparisons and contrasts. Dawn's science instrument suite will measure shape, surface topography, tectonic history, elemental and mineral composition, and will seek out water-bearing minerals. In addition, the Dawn spacecraft itself and how it orbits both Vesta and Ceres will be used to measure the celestial bodies' masses and gravity fields.

Since Vesta and Ceres are not NEAs, we will not be covering this mission in any detail in NEO News. For regular updates, please check the Dawn homepage at (


Summary from David Morrison, 22 October 2007

The past weekend (October 20-21) more than 40 NEO scientists and engineers met for informal discussions of the potential of low cost missions to characterize NEOs. This workshop was part of series of informal weekend workshops hosted by Ames Center Director Pete Worden. The organizers were David Morrison (Senior Scientist, NASA Astrobiology Institute) and Stephanie Langhoff (Ames Chief Scientist), assisted by Organizing Committee members Erik Asphaug, Dan Durda, Bob Farquhar, and Pete Klupar. The workshop agenda was structured to bring together science and engineering communities who have a common interest in small missions but rarely talk to each other.

The workshop agenda blended three major themes: (1) The importance of characterizing small NEOs and the kinds of science measurements that need to be made. (2) How to get to the targets: populations, orbital dynamics, direct vs. gravity-assist trajectories, opportunities for secondary payloads and missions of opportunity. (3) Low-cost missions: spacecraft, instruments, proximity operations, propulsion, landers, and impactors. Fifteen-minute papers covered the above topics, with plenty of time for discussion. The final afternoon was devoted to interactive discussions, organized around three key questions that the workshop participants could explore in smaller breakout sessions, on (1) impactors, (2) rendezvous and orbiter missions, and (3) landers. Sample return was considered outside the possible range for small missions, defined here as those costing under $100M.

The workshop consensus was that small (low cost) missions to NEOs make sense. Since a major objective is to sample the diversity of this population, multiple small missions are cost-effective. At this stage of our knowledge, we can select the most accessible targets, which can be reached with modest launch vehicles, or in many cases as secondary payloads or missions of opportunity. The most powerful general exploration approach is with orbiting or rendezvous spacecraft. Impactors used in cooperation with other missions are potentially able to explore interior structure, and it may also be possible to achieve simple landings within the "small mission" cost cap. In all these cases, a program of NEO missions can be developed using either secondary payload opportunities or Minotaur-class launch vehicles, so long as we select the targets (as opposed to the asteroids selecting us).


The Congressional hearing on NEO surveys (originally planned for October 11) has been rescheduled for November 8. The hearing before the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will tentatively include the following witnesses: Jim Green (NASA HQ), Scott Pace (NASA HQ), Don Yeomans (JPL), Rusty Schweickart (B612), Don Campbell (Cornell/Arecibo), and Tony Tyson (LSST). Further information including opportunities to listen on-line will be found at the Committee website (


The 2007 meeting of the Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society was held in Orlando October 7-12, with about 800 planetary scientists attending. Asteroids and comets were remarkably prominent at this annual meeting. Not counting the Kuiper Belt, the program lists 171 papers (oral and poster) on comets and asteroids, rather evenly distributed among NEOs, Main Belt Asteroids, and Comets. Also, 10 out of 35 oral sessions were on comets and asteroids. These included two "special sessions" on the first day of the meeting dealing with NEAs: "What's next with NEO searches" and "YORP Observed!".

The session on "NEO Searches" was organized by Lindley Johnson (NASA HQ) and Don Yeomans (JPL). The program was:
- Lindley Johnson: The state and future of NASA's NEO program
- Robert Jedicke: The Pan-STARRS PS1 survey
- Steven Chesley: Asteroid impact monitoring: Status and predictions
- Paul Abell et al.: Piloted Missions to NEOs via the CEV
- Donald Yeomans: NEO Lessons Learned
- Steven Larson et al.: Current ground-based surveys for NEOs
- Edward Wright: Space infrared observations of NEOs
- Zelljko Ivezic: LSST's NEO survey capabilities
- David Morrison: Role of NEO characterization missions

The YORP (the Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack) effect is a torque that can modify the rotation rates and axial tilt of small bodies via the combined effects of incident solar radiation pressure and the recoil effect from non-isotropic thermal radiation from the object. This effect can be seen in the alignments of spin vectors for members of asteroid families, and it is emerging as an important effect for spinning up asteroids to create binaries and for the long-terms evolution of asteroid orbits. While the YORP effect has been discussed theoretically for many decades, it had not been observed directly. The first clear detection is from optical monitoring of NEA 2000PH5, which has recently been given the name 54509 YORP. The Japanese Hayabusa mission has also observed this change in spin for the small NEA Itokawa.


NEO News (now in its thirteenth year of distribution) is an informal compilation of news and opinion dealing with Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and their impacts. These opinions are the responsibility of the individual authors and do not represent the positions of NASA, the International Astronomical Union, or any other organization. To subscribe (or unsubscribe) contact For additional information, please see the website If anyone wishes to copy or redistribute original material from these notes, fully or in part, please include this disclaimer.

22 October 2007

Estimate at Submissions for Planetary Society 2007 Apophis Mission Design Competition

Here is my estimate for those teams that have submitted to the 2007 Planetary Society Apophis Mission Design Competition. About 100 teams sent letters of intent and I believe only 30 or so teams actually submitted final written proposals. Here is my list (in no order):

1. SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) and SpaceDev, Inc. team
Link: News Item of Foresigh Spacecraft Design (note: I was on this team)

2. Astrium:
Link: News Article from BBC

3. Georgia Institute of Technology

4. University of Michigan
Link: Class Website

5. MIT
Students: Thomas Coffee, Wilfried Hofstetter, Ryan McLinko, Chase Million; Reviewer / advisor: Paul Wooster
Link: Project Site

6. xrd1 Consulting (I do not know if this is a company or person, I believe they/him are located in Michigan and run a blog called “Homeland Currency Security”)
Link: HTML Version of Report

7. Vu Trong Thu (Personal)
Link: Personal proposal

- [Not known to be an entry] Interesting paper from Regan Howard and Ross Gillett entitled: "A Low Cost Rendezvous Mission to 99942 Apophis" from Orbital Science Corporation (OSC), Space Systems Group (not confirmed as a submission, but interesting paper).
Link: IEEE Xplore reference

20 October 2007

ESA Mission Update: Marco Polo - an asteroid sample-return mission

This an update on the European Space Agency (ESA) proposed Marco Polo mission.

Selections from the article:

A clearer idea of Europe's next destinations in space emerged at a meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA) Space Science Advisory Committee on 17 and 18 October. A number of candidates for future missions were selected...From a list of 50 proposals submitted by the scientific community [one of the mission selected was the following:]

Marco Polo would characterise a near-Earth object at multiple scales and return a sample. This could provide new information on the evolution of the Solar System, the role of minor bodies in the process, the origins and evolution of Earth and of life itself. This mission would also be implemented in collaboration with JAXA.

All of the above missions will now compete in an assessment cycle, due to end in 2011. This will result in the selection of two missions for implementation, with launches in 2017 and 2018.

Link: Article: ESA

18 October 2007

Book Update: Planetary Defense and Asteroids/Comets

Catastrophic Events Caused by Cosmic Objects (Hardcover)
by V.V Adushkin (Editor), I.V. Nemchinov (Editor)


Rosetta: Mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Hardcover)
by C.T. Russell (Editor)


Surviving Armageddon: Solutions for a Threatened Planet (Paperback)
by Bill McGuire (Author)


Article: "Potentially Dangerous Space Rock Lost, and Found"

Article: "Potentially Dangerous Space Rock Lost, and Found"

Link: Article ( - 18 October 2007

15 October 2007

10th Asteroids, Comets, Meteors meeting: 14-18 July 2008 (Baltimore, Maryland)

Scientific meeting in 2008 on small bodies, from the meeting website:

The 10th Asteroids, Comets, Meteors meeting will be held 14-18 July 2008 (with a reception on the 13th) in Baltimore, Maryland, USA and will be hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The Asteroids, Comets, Meteors (ACM) meeting is the premier international gathering of scientists who study small bodies. The ACM series began in 1983 in Uppsala, Sweden, as a means of bringing together different groups within the asteroid, comet, and meteor communities who do not often have the opportunity to interact. From this first ACM meeting, a regular conference began. Now occurring every three years, it is the pre-eminent meeting for small-bodies research, with attendance usually in excess of 400. The 2008 ACM meeting will be the 10th in the series and will mark the 25th anniversary of the first meeting in Uppsala.

The scope of presentations and discussion is broad, ranging from discovery and cataloguing of objects, to observations of meteor showers by radar, to modeling the gas production of comets, to plans for future asteroid sample returns, and all topics related to asteroids, comets, and meteors. ACM 2008 is expected to bring together experts on small-bodies studies from around the world. It will be the first time this meeting will be held since the spectacular disintegration of comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, since availability of Stardust samples to the wider research community, since the launch of Dawn, as well as many other significant or anticipated events. ACM 2008 will highlight the research currently being conducted, encourage discussion among researchers in various areas, and identify new avenues of research.

Areas of expertise to be covered at the meeting will include multi-wavelength observations from the ground and space, discovery and cataloguing of objects, numerical studies of the dynamics and impact behavior of small bodies, and laboratory investigations of extraterrestrial materials. Topics will include but are not limited to the following:

* Near-Earth Object searches: Pan-STARRS and other newly founded surveys
* Results of Stardust sample return analyses
* Results from the Hayabusa mission
* Observations of Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3
* Updates on Dawn, Rosetta, New Horizons, and planned missions to small bodies
* Compositional studies of asteroids and comets
* Small body populations: evolution and dynamics
* Interdisciplinary studies: How do asteroids/comets/meteors interrelate?
* Internal structure of small bodies, including presence/formation of satellites
* Origin of the solar system, as deduced from small bodies studies
* Small body impact hazards
* Laboratory studies of small-body processes and constituents

Particular effort will be made to include experts in the analysis of laboratory samples of primitive materials from small bodies, as this will be the first ACM since the Stardust samples have been available for study. ACM 2008 will be an unprecedented opportunity for the Stardust sample analysis community and the small bodies observing community to meet and learn from each other.

Link: Meeting website

NASA Humans to NEO Study Update

While in Hyderabad, India for the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), I was fortunate to see Dr. David J. Korsmeyer (Chief, Intelligent Systems Division, NASA Ames Research Center) give a presentation on NASA's recent humans to NEO study.

Paper Number: IAC-07-B3.5.06
Paper Title: Into the Beyond: A Crewed Mission to a Near Earth Object

Selections from the paper:

The most recent assessment has been undertaken by the Advanced Projects Office within NASA’s Constellation Program. This particular study examined the feasibility of sending NASA’s new Orion spacecraft (also referred to as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, or CEV) to a NEO. Depending on the specifications of spacecraft and integrated components, a mission profile would include two or three astronauts on a 90- to 180-day spaceflight; including a 7- to 14-day stay at the NEO itself. These missions to NEOs provide Exploration with an excellent suite of benefits: operational experience beyond cislunar space; risk reduction for space hardware; confidence building for future mission scenarios; in situ resource utilization evaluation; as well as a rich scientific return.

The Advanced Projects Office within NASA’s Constellation Program sponsored the most recent official NASA study. This six-month (Sept 2006 – Feb 2007) study was conducted by a team led from NASA Ames Research Center. That team included members from NASA Johnson Space Center (including astronaut Ed Lu), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Headquarters, and former astronaut Tom Jones, the author of two previous NEO studies. The study examined the feasibility of sending a CEV to a NEO.

The current study performed a detailed analysis of a 90-day mission scenario to an asteroid. In order to minimize the impact to current CEV development and to maximize the applicability and validity of this NEO mission to Constellation test objectives, an unmodified Block II CEV and unmodified Ares launch vehicles were assumed. The asteroid 2000 SG344 was used as a placeholder for an appropriate mission target that has yet to be found from the NEO survey. This mission analysis was performed using a single Ares 1 launch of a CEV with an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch of a Centaur-class upper stage to act as a NEO injection stage. The overall scope of the mission. The trajectories shown in Figure 2 show the orbital elements of the asteroid 2000 SG344 in 2069, which is representative of the proper relative position of the NEO to the Earth.

Link: AIAA Paper (first page): R. Landis, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; D. Korsmeyer, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; P. Abell, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; and D. Adamo, Trajectory Consultant, Houston, TX, AIAA-2007-6168, AIAA SPACE 2007 Conference and Exposition, Long Beach, California, Sep. 18-20, 2007.

Link: article

Link: Visual Simulation by DigitalSpace



New information on Apophis Composition (from MIT)

From the article:

By analysing its spectrum and comparing it with meteorites that have already landed on Earth, the team has "nailed" its composition, says Richard Binzel, professor of planetary sciences in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS)...Their work suggests that Apophis is a rare type, known as LL chondrite. Just seven per cent of the space rocks that land on Earth are a match to this pyroxene and olivine-rich rock, the team says.

Information from abstract:

Spectral Properties and Composition of Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (99942) Apophis
Richard P. Binzel1, A. S. Rivkin2, C. A. Thomas1, P. Vernazza3, T. H. Burbine4, F. E. DeMeo1, S. J. Bus5, A. T. Tokunaga5, M. Birlan6
1MIT, 2JHU APL, 3LESIA - Obs. Paris, France, 4Mt. Holyoke College, 5Institute for Astronomy, Univ. Hawaii, 6IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris, France.

The known close approach of asteroid (99942) Apophis in April 2029 provides the opportunity for the case study of a potentially hazardous asteroid in advance of its encounter. The visible to near-infrared (0.5- to 2.5-micron) reflectance spectrum of Apophis, obtained with the Magellan and NASA IRTF telescopes, is compared and modeled with respect to the spectral and mineralogical characteristics of likely meteorite analogs. Apophis is found to be an Sq-class asteroid that most closely resembles LL ordinary chondrite meteorites in terms of its spectral characteristics and in terms of its interpreted olivine and pyroxene abundances. The value of a meteorite association is that it allows physical constraints to be placed on the nature of Apophis. For example, an ordinary chondrite analog allows inference of Apophis' physical properties such as the grain density and micro-porosity of its constituent material. We note that an LL-chondrite interpretation for Apophis is similar to that for (25143) Itokawa, for which in situ spacecraft measurements are available. If we may use Itokawa as an analogy, this suggests for Apophis a total porosity of 40% as a "best guess." Using these "best guess" parameters yields a mass estimate of 2 x 10^10 kg and a kinetic energy estimate of 375 Mt for its potential hazard. Actual unknowns, most notably in the total porosity, allow uncertainties in these mass and energy estimates to be as large as a factor of two or three.

Link: Abstract from Oct. 9 meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society Annual Meeting

Link: MIT Article

Link: Article (Register)

Video that Represents NASA Human NEO Mission

Bootprints on Asteroids: NASA considers how to fly human missions to Near Earth Asteroids. Credit:

Link: Video from

Article: "Are mirrors the best way to deflect asteroids?"

From the article...

Focusing sunlight onto an asteroid with space-based mirrors is the best way to deflect Earth-bound space rocks, a new study finds. The mirrors beat out nuclear blasts and "gravity tractors" in the study, which compared nine different deflection methods

Now, researchers led by Massimiliano Vasile of the University of Glasgow in Scotland have compared nine of the many methods proposed to ward off such objects, including blasting them with nuclear explosions.

The team assessed the methods according to three performance criteria: the amount of change each method would make to the asteroid's orbit, the amount of warning time needed and the mass of the spacecraft needed for the mission.

The method that came out on top was a swarm of mirror-carrying spacecraft. The spacecraft would be launched from Earth to hover near the asteroid and concentrate sunlight onto a point on the asteroid's surface.

Link: Article (New Scientist, 09 October 2007)

Link: University of Glasgow: SpaceArt Design Group Page on NEOs

SEI and SpaceDev's Apophis Radio Tagging Mission Design

Engineering services and concept development firm SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) and small satellite developer SpaceDev, Inc. announce the submission of a joint proposal, the Foresight spacecraft, to the Planetary Society’s Apophis mission design competition. Foresight is a low-cost, low-risk, minimal science approach to achieve the specific goal of obtaining accurate tracking to reduce the uncertainty in the orbit of potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) Apophis.

Link: Press Release

Link: Design Proposal Summary: Foresight Mission Design Summary (September 28, 2007).

Bill Ailor's Talk at IAC 2007 on Earth-threatening asteroids:

Bill Ailor, of the Aerospace Corporation, gave a talk at the recently concluded International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2007 in Hyderabad, India on Earth threatening asteroids. Bill was the lead for the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference and most likely will be leading the planning for the potential 2009 conference (may be in Europe).

Link: YouTube Video (IAC 2007: Earth-threatening asteroids: 1 of 5)

14 October 2007

NASA Conference: "Low-Cost Missions to Near Earth Objects Workshop"

Attempting to get back to blogging after a long hiatus.

There is an upcoming NASA Ames hosted conference (October 20-21, 2007) related to NEOs and small cost satellite missions. The conference website was open to the public (then closed, see the SpaceRef article). However, when one examined the agenda that was online there were many papers on human missions to NEO using NASA exploration elements (such as the CEV, lunar lander, etc.). This was probably based upon the recently concluded NASA study originating out of NASA Ames. Once again, there seemed to be several of the "traditional" panelists and more interesting concept/ideas did not seem to be included.

Link: SpaceRef
Note: Any opinions expressed on the blog are solely those of the author. The site is not sponsored by, nor does it represent the opinions of, any organization, corporation, or other entity.