Daniel J. Scheeres — Lecture

Event Date: September 12, 2019
Speaker: Daniel J. Scheeres | University of Colorado Boulder, Distinguished Professor, A. Richard Seebass Endowed Chair
Speaker Affiliation: University of Colorado Boulder
Sponsor: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Time: 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Location: ARMS Atrium
Contact Name: Maria Longoria-Littleton
Contact Phone: +1 765 49-40015
Contact Email: mlongori@purdue.edu
Priority: Yes
School or Program: College of Engineering, Aeronautics and Astronautics
College Calendar: Show

The Future of Asteroid Exploration and the Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx Missions

Daniel J. ScheeresThe year 2018 was a banner year for asteroid exploration. The Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at its target asteroid (162173) Ryugu and the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made its rendezvous with (101955) Bennu. The main goal of both of these missions is to collect samples from these primitive bodies and return them to Earth for further analysis. In order to place these valuable samples into appropriate context both missions will also explore the physical and geophysical environment of these bodies. These missions mark an important step in humanity’s continued robotic exploration of asteroids — a larger endeavor motivated by the scientific study and exploration of the solar system and the protection of the Earth against future hazardous asteroid impactors.

To carry out such missions involves significant challenges for the dynamics and control of spacecraft. These challenges will be introduced during the talk. They have also motivated exciting new approaches to the design and operation of close proximity dynamics about such small solar system bodies.

For example, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Bennu will implement an entirely new approach to orbital mechanics in the asteroid environment. One which has already been proven by the mission to work very well. In contrast, the Hayabusa2 mission is using a close proximity operations strategy first tested and developed for the Hayabusa mission to asteroid Itokawa. This approach involves the spacecraft nulling out the gravitational attraction of the asteroid to “hover” above the body.

The successful implementation of such close proximity operations will usher in a new capability for the exploration of small solar system bodies. However, the approaches followed for both missions require significant interactions with the ground operations team. To enable more frequent, and lower cost, future missions there is strong interest to better understand and migrate key close proximity operations on-board the spacecraft where they can be executed autonomously. This is a topic of specific interest for NASA, and one that results from both of these missions can be leveraged for improving our future capability in this area.

This talk will discuss the technical challenges and state of the art of spacecraft operations in the asteroid environment. It will also give an overview of both the Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx missions and discuss the extreme and exciting orbital dynamics environment in which these spacecraft are operating. We will also discuss future areas of research that are motivated by these missions, both in pursuit of new scientific discoveries and of autonomous operations about solar system bodies.


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