TUTCRIS - Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto


What's inside a rubble pile asteroid? DiSCUS - A tomographic twin radar Cubesat to find out



Otsikko69th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2018
TilaJulkaistu - 2018
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA4 Artikkeli konferenssijulkaisussa
TapahtumaInternational Astronautical Congress - Bremen, Saksa
Kesto: 1 lokakuuta 20185 lokakuuta 2018


NimiProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
ISSN (painettu)0074-1795


ConferenceInternational Astronautical Congress


A large fraction of asteroids with diameter d > 240 m are suspected to be loose piles of rocks and boulders bound together mainly by gravity and only weak cohesion. Still to date the size and distribution of voids and monolithic fragments inside these "rubble-piles" are not known. To perform a full tomographic interior reconstruction a bistatic CubeSat configuration has been investigated by Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Radar Systemtechnik GmbH (RST) and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS). The concept is based on two 6U CubeSats, both carrying an identical 1U sized stepped frequency radar. As stepped frequency radars can be built compact, require less power and generate less data volume compared to other radar applications they are well-suited for small satellite platforms. In 2017 the Concurrent Design Facility of ESA/ESTEC conducted two studies relevant for DISCUS. In the Small Planetary Probes (SPP) study DISCUS served as a reference payload for a piggyback mission to a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) or even a Main Belt Asteroid (MBA). The M-ARGO study investigated a stand-alone mission to a NEA, with a DISCUS sized instrument. Based on the spacecraft design of SPP and M-ARGO we could prove the instrument requirements as feasible and evaluate our science case from the orbits and mission duration that have been identified by these studies. Using inversion methods developed for medical tomography the data would allow to reconstruct the large scale interior structure of a small body. Simulations have shown that the measurement principle and the inversion method are robust enough to allow full reconstruction of the interior even if the orbits do not cover the entire surface of the asteroid. The measurement results of the mission will help to gain a better understanding of asteroids and the formation mechanisms of the solar system. In addition, the findings will increase the predictability of asteroid impact consequences on Earth and improve future concepts of asteroid deflection.


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