2017.B.1.5. Wayfarer: On-Demand Small Body Exploration with a Common Architecture Spacecraft


Walter Harris (1)

  1. University of Arizona, United States of America




Planetesimals, Common-architecture, Rapid Response


The vast population of asteroids and comets with orbits that bring them into the vicinity of Earth are compelling targets for scientific study, future resource utilization, and for impact risk mitigation. Over the past 30-years, spacecraft have visited a total of 12 asteroids and 8 Jupiter family comets, with all but 3 being flyby encounters. These visitations have revealed substantial variability in the shape, surface, and evolutionary characteristics of NEOs. This has revolutionized our understanding of planetesimals as individual worlds and emphasized the need for a statistics-based exploration of many objects in close proximity.  In this presentation, we discuss a methodology for large-scale exploration of near-Earth small bodies with a fleet of common-format microsatellites based on a Cubesat platform that are launched via-ride share into a holding orbit for on-demand deployment.  We will describe the scientific and support instrumental requirements, the potential encounter modes enabled with mission design, and some well-known near Earth bodies that could be explored.


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