Small spacecraft for small solar system body science, planetary defence and applications

  • Following the recent successful landings and occasional re-awakenings of PHILAE, the lander carried aboard ROSETTA to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the launch of the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, MASCOT, aboard the HAYABUSA2 space probe to asteroid (162173) Ryugu we present an overview of the characteristics and peculiarities of small spacecraft missions to small solar system bodies (SSSB). Their main purpose is planetary science which is transitioning from a ‘pure’ science of observation of the distant to one also supporting in-situ applications relevant for life on Earth. Here we focus on missions at the interface of SSSB science and planetary defence applications. We provide a brief overview of small spacecraft SSSB missions and on this background present recent missions, projects and related studies at the German Aerospace Center, DLR, that contribute to the worldwide planetary defence community. These range from Earth orbit technology demonstrators to active science missions in interplanetary space. We provide a summary of experience from recently flown missions with DLR participation as well as a number of studies. These include PHILAE, the lander of ESA’s ROSETTA comet rendezvous mission now on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, MASCOT, now in cruise to the ~1 km diameter C-type near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu aboard the Japanese sample-return probe HAYABUSA2. We introduce the differences between the conventional methods employed in the design, integration and testing of large spacecraft and the new approaches developed by small spacecraft projects. We expect that the practical experience that can be gained from projects on extremely compressed timelines or with high-intensity operation phases on a newly explored small solar system body can contribute significantly to the study, preparation and realization of future planetary defence related missions. One is AIDA (Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment), a joint effort of ESA, JHU/APL, NASA, OCA and DLR, combining JHU/APL’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) and ESA’s AIM (Asteroid Impact Monitor) spacecraft in a mission towards near-Earth binary asteroid system (65803) Didymos. DLR is currently applying MASCOT heritage and lessons learned to the design of MASCOT2, a lander for the AIM mission to support a bistatic low frequency radar experiment with PHILAE/ROSETTA CONSERT heritage to explore the inner structure of Didymoon which is the designated impact target for DART.

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Author:Jan Thimo Grundmann, Jens Biele, Bernd Dachwald, Christian Grimm, Caroline Lange, Stephan Ulamec
Parent Title (English):IEEE Aerospace Conference 2016
Document Type:Conference Proceeding
Year of Completion:2016
Date of the Publication (Server):2022/07/15
First Page:1
Last Page:20
Institutes:FH Aachen / Fachbereich Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik
FH Aachen / IfB - Institut für Bioengineering