Derived shape model of 1996 FG3 shown from four view angles, i.e., north pole (top left), south pole (bottom left), equator (top right and bottom right), respectively. Yu et al. (2014).
In the frame of the NEOShield-2 H2020 Project, the definition of the Reference Mission for the Sample Return Scenario represented an important step for supporting the following development activities on GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) and Sampling technologies.
This activity started by performing a thorough review of the surface properties of potential NEO candidates, identifying the main sample parameters that have to be considered as interesting for sampling and the type of investigations that can be performed in situ and in the advanced laboratories on Earth. The main outcome of this review was the selection of a short list of reference NEO targets, with the binary C‐type NEA (175706) 1996 FG3 chosen as baseline target for this mission.
In parallel, Sample Return Missions already performed and under investigation have been reviewed to identify the use of common strategies and to understand the faced/expected challenges in sampling a low gravity body. These missions have been then subdivided in in specific groups: Hover and Go missions, Touch and Go missions, and Static Landing mission.
The implications relevant to each of the mentioned groups have been discussed with the aim of highlighting the advantages and criticalities. Therefore, a trade-off has been carried out to select which type of mission is the most suitable for the target and for meeting a set of criteria relevant to science, mission and technology aspects. The preliminary selection focused on a static landing mission, which despite its complexity is expected to provide higher probability to meet the science requirements.
By Emanuele Monchieri from Airbus Defence and Space, with the contribution of Matteo Suatoni and Marco di Domenico from GMV, and Davide Perna and Antonella Barucci from OBSPM.