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Proximity Operations for Near Earth Asteroid Exploration NM State University, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Science Mission Directorate

The goal of this project was to study some of the problems associated with spacecraft operations in the vicinity of near-earth asteroids (NEAs). An interdisciplinary team composed of engineers, space scientists, and astronomers from four academic institutions in three states worked together to better understand the issues associated with NEA operations, including asteroid modeling, dynamics modeling in the small body proximity environment, spacecraft control, and communications modeling. Over the course of this research project, the research team has had a number of successes. First, we have developed more accurate asteroid models (Figure (a)). Second, we have implemented sophisticated orbitattitude coupled dynamics models (Figure (b)) which we have used both to analyze communications issues in the vicinity of NEAs to infer information about a specific NEA’s composition (e.g., mass distribution) with the help of sophisticated Kalman filters. Finally, we have also developed efficient spacecraft control algorithms which use an advanced mathematical framework to reduce propulsion requirements. In total, this research has resulted in 56 conference papers and 12 journal papers. In addition to its research contributions, this project has also helped train a new generation of engineers and scientists, including 8 students from three institutions with 6 of these being New Mexicans.

(a) Shape model for asteroid 1998WS created using observations by co-PI Klingesmith; (b) Orbital simulation created using triaxial ellipsoid model developed by co-PI Sheeres.

Dr. Eric A Butcher, Science PI, NM State University



David J. Miranda, NASA Technical Monitor, Kennedy Space Center

NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014 -15

EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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