Evaluation of Mother-Daughter Architectures for Asteroid Belt Exploration

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019

Leonard Dean Vance, Erik Asphaug, Jekan Thangavelautham

(Submitted on 28 Dec 2018)

This paper examines the effectiveness of an asteroid exploration architecture comprised of multiple nanosatellite sized spacecraft deployed from a single mother ship into a heliocentric orbit in the main asteroid belt where the mothership is ideally located in region of high density. Basic mission requirements associated with a Mother-Daughter architecture are established utilizing a relatively large number (10-20) daughter spacecraft distributed from a mothership within the asteroid belt for the purpose of executing sample and return missions. A number of trade analyses are performed to establish system performance to changes in initial orbit, delta-V capability and maximum small spacecraft flight time. The balance between the initial delta-V burn and asteroid velocity matching are also examined, with a goal of minimizing the amount of fuel needed in the small spacecraft. Preliminary requirements for the system are established using these results, and a conceptual design is presented for comparison to other asteroid exploration techniques. Preliminary results indicate that the aforementioned concept of a mothership with small spacecraft is viable and should be considered as an alternative approach to first order surveying of the asteroid belt.

Comments: 8 pages, 8 Figures, AIAA Scitech Conference 2019

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Space Physics (

Cite as: arXiv:1812.11243 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1812.11243v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jekan Thangavelautham 

[v1] Fri, 28 Dec 2018 22:57:14 UTC (1,444 KB)

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