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Asteroid deflection methods for mining purposes


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This presentation investigates different asteroid deflection (orbital change) methods and assesses its useability for asteroid mining purposes. Presented at the International Space University, Space Engineering Department, Space Studies Program 2013

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Asteroid deflection methods for mining purposes

  1. 1. How to move an asteroid? Asteroid deflection methods for mining purposes Remco Timmermans –2 August 2013 International Space University Space Studies Program 2013 Space Engineering Department
  2. 2. Agenda • Why move an asteroid? • The NASA plan • NEO detection and deflection • Deflection methods • Method comparison for mining purposes • Conclusion
  3. 3. Why move an asteroid? • Easy access for mining • Keep it in a stable orbit • Ensure safety Source:
  4. 4. NASA plan (2013) Source: 2.2 years 1.7 years 90 days 2 to 6 years
  5. 5. Gravitational slingshot (2011) • Use Venus, Mars, Moon and Earth gravity • Calculations made on Apophis (325m) • Minor orbit adjustment needed • Planets gravity will “finish the job” • “as much an art as engineering” • Needs “tugship” to alter orbit Source: Apophis trajectory on 13 April 2029 
  6. 6. NEO Detection and Deflection • Detect  Find PHA (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids) • Deflect  Change orbit to avoid collision • Goal  Protect the planet from NEO impact
  7. 7. NEO deflection methods • Impulsive Methods: – Kinetic Impactor – Blast Deflection • Low Thrust Methods: – Mass Drivers – Surface Ablation – Low Thrust Propulsion – Gravity Tractor • Passive Methods: – Paint and the Yarkovsky Effect Source: A Gibbings et al, 2013
  8. 8. Impulsive Methods Kinetic Impactor (Nuclear) Blast Deflection Source:
  9. 9. Low Thrust Methods Sources: A. Gibbings et al (2013) Gravity Tractor Surface Ablation Ion Beam Sheperd Mass Driver
  10. 10. Passive Methods Source: http://
  11. 11. Method Comparison Method Deflection Mining NASA Mission Gravitational Slingshot Kinetic Impactor Blast Deflection Mass Drivers Surface Ablation Low Thrust Propulsion Gravity Tractor Passive Methods
  12. 12. Conclusion • Asteroids may be moved for collision avoidance and mining purposes alike • Most deflection methods are suitable for mining purposes • There are good alternatives to the method chosen by NASA • Each method has clear pro’s and con’s • More research is required for both purposes
  13. 13. Thank you!