The NEOShield-2 project is proposed by a consortium of 11 partner organizations from academia and industry, listed in the table below. The partners will investigate in more detail key technologies crucial to space missions to deflect NEOs, including autonomous guidance, navigation, and control systems, and carry out observations of selected NEOs for the purposes of broadening our knowledge of their mitigation-relevant physical properties, and increasing the list of suitable candidate targets for deflection test missions.

Other themes, also addressed by the consortium in the former NEOShield project, are the design of an international strategy or “roadmap” for responding to the discovery of a significant impact threat, and the role of the NEOShield projects in relation to current impact-hazard response activities on the international stage.

Partner nameCountryRole/main contributions
Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS GmbH)GermanyNEOShield-2 project coordinator; Supervision of
technical work for NEOShield; detailed mission &
system designs, reference mission definition and
technology development for the kinetic impactor and
precise orbit determination technology; public outreach.
Airbus Defence and Space Ltd.UKNEO deflection techniques trade-off study; global
mitigation strategy; NEO material sampling concepts.
Airbus Defence and Space SASFranceKinetic-impactor guidance concept: GNC subsystem
design and technology development.
Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique (CNRS), Côte d’Azur
FranceNEO science: computer modelling of NEO material and
structural properties.
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Planetary Research,
GermanyNEOShield project coordinator; supervision of scientific
work for NEOShield-2; NEO science: data analysis,
modelling; global mitigation strategy; public outreach.
Elecnor DeimosSpainNEO reconnaissance spacecraft guidance concept:
GNC sub-system design and technology development;
global mitigation strategy; NEO physical properties
database and support tools.
Fraunhofer Ernst Mach Institute,
GermanyNEO science: gas-gun experiments, computer
modelling of NEO material properties; in-situ sampling.
GMV Aerospace and Defence
SpainGNC subsystem design for
material sampling, and associated technology
development and testing.
National Institute for AstrophysicsItalyNEO science: observations, data analysis.
Paris ObservatoryFranceNEO science: observations, data analysis, orbital
dynamics, space-mission instrumentation; global
mitigation strategy.
Queen’s University BelfastUKNEO science: observations, data analysis, deflection
test-mission target selection.

Following on from NEOShield, NEOShield-2 will investigate in more detail key technologies crucial to space missions to deflect NEOs, including autonomous guidance, navigation, and control systems, and carry out observations of selected NEOs for the purposes of broadening our knowledge of their mitigation-relevant physical properties, and increasing the list of suitable candidate targets for deflection test missions.

The NEOShield-2 consortium

The NEOShield-2 project has been started on the 1st of March 2015 and is the following of NEOShield, which ended in May 2015. NEOShield-2 is a consortium consisting of 11 of the most NEO-experienced European space industries and world-leading European research institutes.

It will further develop key technologies & instruments and perform NEO related research activities in response to the PROTEC-2-2014 call of the European Commission to “Access technologies and characterisation for Near Earth Objects (NEOs)”.


  • Airbus Defence and Space
    • Airbus DS GmbH, Germany (ADS-DE)
    • Airbus Defence and Space SAS, France (ADS-FR)
    • Airbus Defence and Space LTD, United Kingdom (ADS-UK)
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
  • German Aerospace Center Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin (DLR)
  • DEIMOS Space Sociedad Limitada Unipersonal (DMS)
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.; Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut (EMI)
  • GMV Aerospace and Defence SA Unipersonal (GMV)
  • Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF)
  • Observatoire de Paris (OBSPM)
  • The Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)



Short descriptions of consortium partners

Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS, former Astrium) is represented within the NEOShield-2 consortium with its three national entitites:

  • Airbus DS GmbH (ADS-DE)
  • Airbus Defence and Space SAS (ADS-FR)
  • Airbus Defence and Space Ltd (ADS-UK)

The german Airbus DS GmbH is the responsible NEOShield-2 Project Coordinator.

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one space company in Europe and the third in the world, with 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the multinational Airbus Group, Airbus DS is a truly global space industry leader with extensive prime contractorship experience and an international reputation for excellence across all sectors of the space business – launch vehicles, manned space activities and orbital systems, satellite systems, payloads and equipment, and a wide portfolio of space-based services. The long-standing expertise of several of Airbus DS’ different sites will be central to the NEOShield-2 project – Friedrichshafen (Germany), Toulouse (France), and Stevenage (UK). Airbus DS has extensive experience of managing and collaborating in multinational space projects, for both institutional and private-sector customers. Missions related to NEOs and other bodies is an area of special expertise. Airbus DS is prime contractor for all planetary missions so far implemented by the European Space Agency (ESA), notably Europe’s comet lander mission Rosetta, and Mars Express, Venus Express, BepiColombo, Ulysses, SOHO. A number of NEO-related studies were conducted by Airbus DS under national or European contracts (APIES, ASR, ISHTAR, ASTEX, Marco Polo, Proba-IP). In particular, Airbus DS carried out the Don Quijote mission Phase A study, which is directly relevant to the subjects of this project. In an international competition on mission concepts to Apophis sponsored by the American Planetary Society, Airbus DS was awarded both second (in a team with Deimos) and third places. Internal R&D has been invested in topics such as the ‘gravity tractor’ concept, the Yarkovsky effect, landing on Ceres, surface sampling, orbits around NEOs, and modelling of gravity fields. In the critical technology field of guidance, navigation and control (GNC), Airbus DS has unrivalled competences in autonomous planetary rendezvous/landing and docking – for example, the company designs and builds the European ATV cargo freighter which performs completely autonomous docking with the International Space Station.

DLR Institute of Planetary ResearchDLR logo

The DLR Institute of Planetary Research (Institut für Planetenforschung, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR)) as part of the German Aerospace Center studies planets, the planets’ moons, asteroids and comets, researching their internal structure, formation and evolution. The research programs of the institute are based on both ground and space based remote sensing, as well as in-situ measurements using instruments carried on spacecraft. The institute also undertakes theoretical modelling and laboratory experiments. The work of the institute covers concept studies, the instrument development and calibration, instrument operation on spacecraft, observations with ground-based and orbiting telescopes, and the acquisition, reduction, analysis, archiving and distribution of scientific data. The DLR is Germany’s national research centre for aeronautics and space. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, transportation and energy is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. As Germany’s Space Agency, the German federal government has given DLR responsibility for the forward planning and implementation of the German space programme as well as international representation of Germany’s interests.

DLR’s mission comprises:

  • Exploration of the Earth and the Solar System.
  • Research aimed at protecting the environment.
  • Development of environmentally-friendly technologies to promote mobility, communication and security.

DLR operates large-scale research facilities for the center’s own projects and as a service provider for clients and partners. Approximately 6500 people work for DLR; the center has 29 institutes and facilities at 13 locations in Germany. DLR also has offices in Brussels, Paris and Washington, D.C. Approximately 50% of DLR’s budget for in-house research and development work and other internal operations comes from revenues earned by DLR. DLR also administers the space budget of the German government.

Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueCNRS logo

The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Centre for Scientific Research, CNRS) is a government-funded research organization, under the Administrative authority of France’s Ministry of Research. CNRS units employ permanent researchers, engineers, technicians, and administrative staff throughout France. The Lagrange laboratory of CNRS is hosted by the Observatory of Côte d’Azur, Nice. The laboratory is involved in the astrophysical exploitation of major astronomical equipment, numerical computation for theoretical developments, simulations of astrophysical objects and the analysis of observational and theoretical data, in planetology, fluid mechanics, plasma and solar physics, and cosmology. Researchers at the Planetology group of Lagrange are involved in topics such as collisional processes between small bodies, the origin and evolution of planetary systems, and the formation of the Solar System. The group has developed an internationally acclaimed model of the Solar System, known as the “Nice Model”, which provides a scenario reproducing consistently the early phases of our Solar System.

DEIMOS SpaceDeimos logo

DEIMOS Space Sociedad Limitada Unipersonal (DMS) is a private independent company active since 2001, covering different engineering fields (aerospace, defence, telecommunications, energy) and with more than 500 employees. The Aerospace and Defence branch of the Company, with more than 300 employees, has been since its conception the key to the success of the Group, having worked for EC, ESA and the major key players in the Space Sector in Europe. Deimos Space is integrated into the ELECNOR group, one of the largest industrial groups in Spain with a turnover of 900 M€. The Aerospace Engineering Business Unit, which would be in charge of the activities within this initiative, is composed of more than 50 engineers with remarkable and demonstrated experience in the areas of interest for this project: Space Mission Analysis, Space Mission Design, spacecraft GNC (“guidance, navigation and control”), Navigation and Flight Dynamics. In fact, Deimos has been involved in many Pre-Phase A, Phase-A and Phase B activities (Don Quijote, BepiColombo, Rosetta, ExoMars, Solar Orbiter, Proba-3, Proba-IP, Marco Polo, Euclid, etc.).

Ernst-Mach-InstitutEMI logo

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. is Europe’s largest application-oriented private non-profit research organization. Fraunhofer comprises 60 institutes in Germany and runs international research centres and offices in Europe, USA, and Asia. The Fraunhofer Ernst-Mach-Institut (EMI, Institute for High-Speed Dynamics), located in and around Freiburg, carries out research in the fields of defence, space, security and mobility. Investigations carried out at EMI include the physical and technical aspects of high-speed mechanical and fluid-dynamic processes, including experimental and numerical analyses of shock waves in solids, fluids, and gases, flow and combustion processes, impact and penetration processes at speeds ranging from 10 to 10,000 m/s, and the response of materials and structures to shock loads. With about 300 employees, EMI operates large test facilities in its three sites Freiburg, Efringen-Kirchen and Kandern. EMI specializes also in computational physics and high-speed measurement techniques and instrumentation.

GMV Aerospace and Defensegmv

GMV Aerospace and Defense SA Unipersonal (GMV) is a privately owned technological business group with an international presence. Founded in 1984, GMV offers its solutions, services and products in very diverse sectors: Aeronautics, Banking and Finances, Space, Defense, Health, Security, Transportation, Telecommunications, and Information Technology for Public Administration and large corporations.

Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisicalogo_inaf

The Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF, National Institute for Astrophysics) is the most important Italian institution conducting scientific research in astronomy and astrophysics. Researches performed by the scientific staff of the Institute go from the study of the planets and minor bodies of the solar system up to researches of cosmological interest.

Observatoire de ParisObservatoir de Paris logo

Paris Observatory (OBSPM) is a national research centre in astronomy and astrophysics. The Observatory employs approximately 1000 people (750 on permanent positions), comprising one third researchers and two thirds engineers, technicians and administrative personnel. Paris Observatory represents alone one third of astronomy in France; it depends on the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, belongs to the category of ‘Great Establishments’, and has the status of an independent university. The Observatory is structured in 5 laboratories (GEPI, LESIA, LUTH, LERMA and SYRTE), one scientific unit (Nançay radio astronomy station), and one institute (IMCCE) covering all fields of astronomy and astrophysics.

Two of the observatories institutes are members of the NEOShield-2 consortium:

1. LESIA (in French)

LESIA’s (Laboratory of Space Studies and Instrumentation in Astrophysics) scientific activities cover four research themes (Planetology, Astronomy, Plasma Physics and Solar Physics). LESIA carries out the design and implementation of scientific instrumentation for space-borne and ground-based observations; the analysis and interpretation of scientific observations; the development of advanced techniques applied to ground-based and space instruments. LESIA also has many assignments within the astrophysics community (service tasks for the community, institutional responsibilities, teaching) and is involved in activities devoted to the dissemination of scientific culture. In January 2010, the laboratory had 255 staff.


The IMCCE (Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides, Institute for Celestial Mechanics and Calculation of Ephemerides) is an institute of the Paris Observatory. Researchers are dedicated to the study of the Solar System and planetary systems in the domains of celestial mechanics, astrometry, planetology and mathematics. The work performed at IMCCE has been well recognized for many years, (before 1998, under the name “Bureau des longitudes”). Dynamics and astrometry of small Solar System bodies are a main topic of research at IMCCE. An ephemerides server is on-line at the URL and continuously improved.IMCCE is one of the main participants in the Solar System activities of the Gaia mission. Observing programs of Solar System objects are carried out by the scientific teams.

The Queen’s University of BelfastQueen's University Belfast logo

The Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB) is the largest research institute within Northern Ireland and is a member of the Russell Group of top-20 UK research-led Universities. The Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Mathematics and Physics at QUB is committed to pursuing leading-edge research programmes in the observation and modelling of astronomical objects. The Centre concentrates on the study of the local universe and continues to re-align its activities to take account of the rapid improvements in astronomical facilities. This is reflected in their extensive use of front-rank European and international observing facilities. Additionally the Centre is providing purpose built astronomical instrumentation to address currently important astronomical research themes. From 2005 – 2007 the Centre operated the UK Astrometry and Photometry Programme for NEOs in order to improve our knowledge of the NEO impact threat. The programme provided astrometry and orbit refinement for over 200 NEOs with highly uncertain orbits or with a non-zero impact probability. The Centre currently runs research programmes to determine the composition of NEOs through multi-colour photometry and spectroscopy, to aid in their physical characterization and assist theoreticians to disentangle the possible sources of NEOs. They are currently part of an ESO large programme to study and refine NEO spin rates and evolution. Previous relevant scientific investigations by Centre staff include:

  • Spectroscopy of impact debris from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
  • Compositional studies of distant primitive asteroids
  • Spectroscopy of the first predicted Earth-impactor, 2008 TC3
  • Measurement of cometary rotation rates leading to bulk density constraints
  • Imaging of the first observed asteroid-asteroid collision.