Asteroid 2015 LR21 will fly by Earth tomorrow!

Asteroid 2015 LR21 will make a close approach with Earth tomorrow at 6:15 UTC. It will fly by our planet at 2.5 Lunar Distances – about 960 000 km – speeding at 13.76 km/s (49536 km/h). The asteroid has an estimated diameter of 13 -30 meters (H: 26.4).

This is a really close approach, but there is no chance that Asteroid 2015 LR21 will impact us. Hundreds of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) fly by Earth every year and fortunately the majority of them do not hit us.

You can visit our Mitigation Measures page to find out more about how we plan to deflect NEOs!

 

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The NEOShield-2 Mission Definition Requirements Review

Mission Definition Requirements Review

Illustration of a combined gravity tractor and kinetic impactor mission. (Image credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

On the 20th of May the Mission Definition Requirements Review took place. This Review was an important milestone for all NEOShield-2 partners to agree on the reference mission scenarios and the major requirements. It was the first big step to ensure a common and well consolidated baseline as input for the following activities in NEOShield-2, e.g. the development of advanced GNC concepts.

In general there are two major mission scenarios. One mission shall demonstrate the deflections of a NEO the other one shall collect samples from the NEO.

 

The deflections of a NEO

 

One option to deflect a NEO is the “Two-S/C Kinetic Impactor Demo Mission” with the deflection by a Kinetic Impactor spacecraft hitting the NEO and transferring linear momentum to it. By this momentum transfer the orbit of the NEO can be affected and its separation from the earth be increased during its close encounter.

Using a Kinetic Impactor, the magnitude of the achieved NEO deflection is difficult to predict, in particular due to the unknown momentum imparted by ejecta produced by the kinetic impact. A sufficiently precise orbit determination of a NEO from Ground is difficult and may take years. Therefore an Explorer spacecraft characterising the NEO before the impact, observing the impact and measuring the deflection provides an added value for a Kinetic Impactor mission.

An optional mission concept is the “Itokawa Impactor Demo Mission” with the goal of presenting a reduced cost option while maintaining a large part of the mission utility. Target characterisation is achieved by selecting Itokawa, an object that has been visited by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa in 2005.

Deflection validation is achieved by means impacting the target far from the centre of mass and measuring the resulting spin rate change. Above a certain threshold this can be achieved by brightness curve measurements from terrestrial observations. In addition sub-satellites and potentially observations from a fly-by module are considered for additional measurements and images of the impact.

Mission Definition Requirements Review

Overview of Itokawa Impactor Demo Mission terminal approach configuration

 

The sample return mission

 

The primary objective of a Sample Return Mission is to collect one or more samples from the surface of an Asteroid and return them to Earth for performing in depth investigations and analyses using the advanced terrestrial laboratories.

The trade‐off includes scenarios as full landing and re-ascent, touch and‐go or just hovering directly above the NEO surface (no contact with the asteroid surface). This trade‐off takes also into account the description of different types of sampling concepts (e.g. drilling, contactless) depending on the selected sample‐return scenario and on soil characteristics.

The sample return mission can be a stand-alone mission. But it could be also part of the Explorer S/C from the “Two-S/C Kinetic Impactor Demo Mission” scenario.

 

Mission Definition Requirements Review

Marco Polo-R Sampling Campaign [ASTRIUM]

Will we be ready to face a real asteroid threat in the next hundred years?

asteroid impact asteroid threat

[Credit: Shutterstock]

Asteroid impacts and NEO (Near-earth Objects) threats are no news. Scientists know for sure that it is constantly happening and that the risk of a collision between a NEO and Earth is high. The question is not if it will happen one day, but when it will happen and how we are going to react to this threat. A few decades ago, many countries have realised that it is our duty to find solutions to protect mankind against space threats. There are now many organisations carrying out astronomical observations about NEOs and developing mitigation missions to deflect asteroids.

Planetary Defence Conferences (PDC) have been set up so that experts from all over the world could share their knowledge and come up with new ideas about space threats. During the last PDC in Italy, scientists had to deal with a hypothetical impact scenario: a 1,200-foot asteroid hurtling towards Earth, big enough to wipe out a large part of our planet.

After five days of team work, the experts had to admit the mixed result of the exercise. Had such a large NEO really been on collision course with Earth, we would not have been prepared to completely avoid a catastrophe.

Fortunately, more and more people are now aware of the importance of this topic and programs are set up to discover more NEOs and to fund deflection missions. On the 30th of June 2015, www.asteroidday.org will organise the first Asteroid Day for the purpose of raising global awareness about asteroid threats.

Click here to read the entire article.

  • NEOShield is also a project focusing on preventing the collision of Near-earth Objects with Earth. Have a closer look at our website to find more information about us. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Asteroid 2015 KW 120 will make a really close approach with Earth tomorrow!

2015 KW 120

Image credits: NASA

Asteroid 2015 KW 120 will fly by Earth on May 29 at 11:53 UTC. The NEO has an estimated diameter of 11-36 meters (H= 26.0) and will speed past us at 13 km/s (approximately 46800 km/h), at only 1.1 Lunar Distances [LD] – about 422400 kilometers – from our planet.
Asteroids make close approach with Earth every day, but this one will pass by really close. However, there is no chance that it will hit us.
2015 KW 120 will be the fourth asteroid to pass by Earth at less than 2 LDs this month.
You can find a table of content recording all NEOs passing by Earth here.

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