Science and Exploration

Low Delta-V Near-Earth Asteroids: Survey of Suitable Targets for Space Missions

By Keith Cowing
June 20, 2014
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Low Delta-V Near-Earth Asteroids: Survey of Suitable Targets for Space Missions

In the last decades Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) have become very important targets to study, since they can give us clues to the formation, evolution and composition of the Solar System.
In addition, they may represent either a threat to humankind, or a repository of extraterrestrial resources for suitable space-borne missions. Within this framework, the choice of next-generation mission targets and the characterisation of a potential threat to our planet deserve special attention. To date, only a small part of the 11,000 discovered NEOs have been physically characterised. From ground and space-based observations one can determine some basic physical properties of these objects using visible and infrared spectroscopy.

We present data for 13 objects observed with different telescopes around the world (NASA-IRTF, ESO-NTT, TNG) in the 0.4 – 2.5 um spectral range, within the NEOSURFACE survey (this http URL). Objects are chosen from among the more accessible for a rendez-vous mission. All of them are characterised by a delta-V (the change in velocity needed for transferring a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit to rendez-vous with NEOs) lower than 10.5 km/s, well below the Solar System escape velocity (12.3 km/s).

We taxonomically classify 9 of these objects for the first time. 11 objects belong to the S-complex taxonomy; the other 2 belong to the C-complex. We constrain the surface composition of these objects by comparing their spectra with meteorites from the RELAB database. We also compute olivine and pyroxene mineralogy for asteroids with a clear evidence of pyroxene bands. Mineralogy confirms the similarity with the already found H, L or LL ordinary chondrite analogues.

S. Ieva, E. Dotto, D. Perna, M. A. Barucci, F. Bernardi, S. Fornasier, F. De Luise, E. Perozzi, A. Rossi, J. R. Brucato (Submitted on 19 Jun 2014)

Comments: 9 pages, 7 figures, to be published in A&A

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1406.5027 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1406.5027v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Simone Ieva [v1] Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:59:46 GMT (473kb,D)

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