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Tuesday, February 2 • 14:20 - 14:40
SCRAMBLE: Cheap Quick Looks at Asteroids

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Asteroids are extremely diverse bodies, much more diverse than once expected. Every one seen close up, so far, has been different. The idea that these are basically simple bodies, which can be classified well using observations from afar, is looking increasingly laughable. To understand asteroids better, we need close looks at more of them. While in-depth study of many more asteroids would be ideal, even limited information about a larger number of them would help make sense of their diversity.

Orthodox rendezvous missions, even to near-Earth asteroids, take years and operate at vast distances, making them inherently expensive. But every year, a good many asteroids briefly pass quite close to Earth; several times a year, one passes closer than the Moon. If we are willing to settle for short encounters—flybys for fast-moving asteroids, short periods of near-asteroid operations for the occasional slow one—inexpensive small spacecraft could visit several new asteroids per year.

Most of those asteroids are relatively small and hence are first detected only days before closest approach. Nobody is set up to launch spacecraft, even small ones, on such short notice. However, given capable onboard propulsion, they can be launched in advance, and boost themselves out of parking orbit when assigned a target. This works much better from high orbit than from LEO; Space Systems Loral’s new PODS launch service will soon provide affordable small-payload piggyback launches to GSO.

SCRAMBLE would combine UTIAS-SFL’s microsatellite technology with a high-performance propulsion module and PODS launches, to do simple, quick basic reconnaissance of multiple near-Earth asteroids at microsatellite prices. It would also qualify Canadian low-cost satellite technology for service in high orbit and deep space, opening the door to more ambitious future missions.

avatar for Kieran Carroll

Kieran Carroll

Chief Technology Officer, Gedex Systems Inc.
Canadian microsatellite and nanosatellite pioneer. MOST, NEOSSat, BRITEs, reaction wheels, attitude control subsystems. Mission and system level design, program and project architecting and management. Terrestrial and space exploration geophysics. Gravimeters and gravity gradiometers... Read More →
avatar for Nadeem Ghafoor

Nadeem Ghafoor

Vice President, Space Exploration, Canadensys Aerospace Corporation
Dr. Nadeem Ghafoor is the Vice President of Space Exploration at Canadensys Aerospace, a Toronto-based space systems and services company with a focus on accessible space, where he is responsible for science and exploration activities spanning government and commercial markets. Nadeem... Read More →

avatar for Henry Spencer

Henry Spencer

President, SP Systems

Tuesday February 2, 2016 14:20 - 14:40
Provence Room 45 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON M5E 1W2

Attendees (7)