This work will develop algorithms capable of gravimetry for small solar system bodies, such as asteroids and comets, during hypervelocity (i.e., >5 km/s) spacecraft flybys. The algorithms will estimate a small body’s gravitational parameter (GM) using laser ranging and camera tracking measurements by spacecraft instruments of retroreflectors deployed near the target during the high-speed flyby encounter. The primary deliverables are a software suite that demonstrates estimation of a small solar system body’s mass using simulated measurements and a report describing performance and applications for planetary defense and planetary science.More »
The anticipated benefits include:
|Organizations Performing Work||Role||Type||Location|
|Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)||Lead Organization||NASA Center||Greenbelt, Maryland|
While investigating the potential to reduce the uncertainty of a small (50 - 200 meter) target's (asteroid/comet) GM value using retroreflectors at approach speeds of greater than 5 km/s, it was discovered that certain mission aspects may lead to mission infeasibility. Firstly, small targets may not be first detected at a suitable time before the flyby (less than 1 day), requiring large retroreflector release velocities, fast targeting estimation, and fast spacecraft slew and settle times. Secondly, the uncertainty of the target's state causes difficulty in targeting the correct location for retroreflector release. Lastly, due to the retroreflector release uncertainty, retroreflector state uncertainty, and the study's laser ranging device's beam width, it is difficult to point directly at the retro reflector, obtaining measurements. At this stage of understanding, further investigation is needed to determine if gravimetry of small targets using retroreflectors is viable due to the difficulties in target acquisition, retroreflector release targeting, and retroreflector tracking.
The purpose of the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program is to support new technology development and to address scientific challenges. Each year, Principal Investigators (PIs) submit IRAD proposals and compete for funding for their development projects. Goddard’s IRAD program supports eight Lines of Business: Astrophysics; Communications and Navigation; Cross-Cutting Technology and Capabilities; Earth Science; Heliophysics; Planetary Science; Science Small Satellites Technology; and Suborbital Platforms and Range Services.
Task progress is evaluated twice a year at the Mid-term IRAD review and the end of the year. When the funding period has ended, the PIs compete again for IRAD funding or seek new sources of development and research funding, or agree to external partnerships and collaborations. In some cases, when the development work has reached the appropriate Technology Readiness Level (TRL) level, the product is integrated into an actual NASA mission or used to support other government agencies. The technology may also be licensed out to the industry.
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