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Nov 03 2015

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ESA selects 5 CubeSat missions for Asteroid exploration

CubeSats to an asteroid. This is the Asteroid Impact mission that ESA is considering. The 5 CubeSat missions selected are

  • AGEX (Royal Observatory of Belgium). A CubeSat touches down to assess the surface material, surface gravity, subsurface structure and of the DART impact effects. Another CubeSat in orbit deploys smaller ‘chipsats’ dispersed over the asteroid.
  • ASPECT (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland). A CubeSat equipped with a near-infrared spectrometer to assess the asteroid composition and effects of space weathering and metamorphic shock, as well as post-impact plume observations.
  • DustCube (University of Vigo, Micos Engineering GmbH, University of Bologna). A CubeSat to measure the size, shape and concentration of fine dust ejected in the aftermath of the collision and its evolution over time.
  • CUBATA (GMV). Two CubeSats measure the asteroid system’s gravity field pre- and post-impact through Doppler tracking of CubeSats, as well as performing close range imaging of the impact event.
  • PALS (Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Institute for Space Sciences IEEC, Royal Institute of Technology KTH, AAC Microtec, DLR). Two CubeSats characterise the magnetisation, bulk chemical composition and presence of volatiles of the impact ejecta, as well as perform very high resolution imaging of the ejecta components.

I think ESA has the right approach here. Have the CubeSats in pre-staged (in orbit or on the surface) to record the impact and changes to the asteroid afterwards. I’m particularly intrigued with the AGEX mission…launching ChipSats from a CubeSat? Very, VERY interesting…and leaves some unanswered questions like, how long do the ChipSats survive; how are they controlled while in orbit; do they relay data via its mother CubeSat, the mission’s primary payload, or what?

Can a ThumbSat do the ChipSat mission?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/11/03/esa-selects-5-cubesat-missions-for-asteroid-exploration/

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