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Forum:Satellites - Robotic Probes
Topic:ESA's Don Quijote asteroid deflection mission
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ESA's Don Quijote mission concept consists of two spacecraft which are to be launched in separate interplanetary trajectories:

  • An Orbiter spacecraft, called Sancho: After arriving to the target asteroid and be inserted into an orbit around it, it will measure with great accuracy its position, shape, mass, and gravity field for several months before and after the impact of the second spacecraft.

    In addition, the Orbiter will operate as a backup data relay for transferring all the data collected by the Impactor during approach and image the impact from a safe parking position. It will also investigate the surface composition of the asteroid and, after completion of the primary objective, carry out the ASP-DeX.

  • An Impactor spacecraft, named Hidalgo: After following a very different route from that of the Orbiter, the spacecraft will Impact an asteroid of approximately 500 m diameter at a relative speed of about 10 km/s. This spacecraft will demonstrate the ability to autonomously hit the target asteroid based on onboard high-resolution camera.
Mission objectives

The primary objective of the Don Quijote concept is to impact the target Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) and to be able to determine the deflection resulting from the impact. To achieve this, it will measure with extreme accuracy the asteroid's position in space before and after impact.

There is also a secondary objective, involving the so-called Autonomous Surface Package Deployment Engineering eXperiment (ASP-DeX). In this experiment a small device, an Autonomous Surface Package or ASP, would be released from the Orbiter spacecraft while it's on orbit about the asteroid. It would then passively free-fall towards the asteroid surface after its release, and touchdown within a certain distance of a target landmark, most likely the crater resulting from the impact of the Hidalgo spacecraft.

In addition, part of the mission secondary goals are to and study the asteroid's surface chemical composition and the characterization of the thermal and mechanical properties of the asteroid surface.

SpaceAholicDifficult to believe Apophis is considered a viable candidate - the very nature of the mission/experiment is intended to establish what the effects of an impactor are on the target. Since those effects are initially unknown, it could just as likely result in an outcome which increases the probability of capture within Earth's gravity well.

Daily Mail reports about the European Space Agency's plans to launch a mission to blow up an asteroid "hurtling towards Earth."

The mission, called Don Quijote, will involve sending two spacecraft towards a near-Earth asteroid.

One will be an 'impactor', which is fired into the asteroid, the other an orbitor that will analyse data from the experiment.

One potential target is a 1600ft-wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis, which experts say does have a minute chance - around one in 250,000 - of hitting Earth in 2036, so it would be useful target practice.

The 500kg impact craft, which will be called Hidalgo, will ram into the asteroid at a speed of around six miles a second.

The orbitor, called Sancho, will scan the collision and monitor whether the asteroid changes direction at all.

SpaceAholicFollow-on initiative by Johns Hopkins APL.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory are preparing a decade-long, $350 million project to propel a rocket into the asteroid Didymos as it passes close to Earth. If successful, it would be the first time an asteroid is knocked off course by human intervention.

"There is a science aspect to it and a planetary defense aspect to it," Andy Cheng, the chief scientist of the physics laboratory in Laurel, said in an interview.

Cheng said he developed a plan for a lower-cost test for smacking an asteroid as a way to revive a shelved European effort. In a sign of the steep odds it faced, the initial European plan was called Don Quijote, named after the fictional Spanish knight who tussled with windmills he thought to be giants.

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