2019.A.4.4. A CubeSat Concept Supporting the First Chinese Asteroid Exploration Mission


Lihua Zhang (1)
Peng Wang (1)
Yan Zhang (1)

  1. DFH Satellite Co.ltd, China




CubeSat, Asteroid exploration, System concept


After lunar and Mars landing exploration missions, the asteroid will be the next objective of Chinese deep space exploration. A main probe exploration plan has been proposed and it will land and take sample return to Earth on 2016HO3, a small Apollo asteroid. In order to provide supporting and perform collaborative exploration for this asteroid exploration mission, accompanying the main probe, a cube satellite system concept is studied, based on ever maturing micro and nano satellite technologies.

Because more flexible, affordable and lighter solution can be provided, cube satellites are becoming a promising option for the interplanetary exploration mission. Through synchronized exploration between the cube satellites and mother spacecraft may achieve better scientific outcomes.

This cube satellite is a 6U architecture based on commercial-of-the-shelf(COTS) components. It is a 3-axis stabilized spacecraft. attitude determination will be performed with the use of two star trackers, one tri-axial gyroscope and six sun sensors. Attitude control will be achieved with three reaction wheels. a cold gas propulsion system with six micro thrusters is carried for detumbling satellite and desaturating reaction wheels. An UHF communication link for command and telemetry will be established from cube satellite to the main probe. In addition, it can be used as a transponder for ranging between cube satellite and main probe. A optical camera is also carried onboard.

The cube satellite wound be launched and flight together with main probe. After arriving at targeted asteroid, it will be released from the main probe and then run around the asteroid itself. During descent and landing phase of main probe, it will take pictures for main probe and send the pictures to the main probe by UHF link. After main probe landing on the asteroid, it will perform ranging together with main probe. By means of analysis of obtained multiple-way ranging data, the high accuracy orbit parameters, mass and gravity information of the asteroid can be obtained.


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