SIMONE: Interplanetary microsatellites for NEO rendezvous missions

Wells, Nigel; Walker, Roger; Green, Simon and Ball, Andrew (2006). SIMONE: Interplanetary microsatellites for NEO rendezvous missions. Acta Astronautica, 59(8-11) pp. 700–709.



The paper summarises a novel mission concept called SIMONE (smallsat intercept missions to objects near Earth), whereby a fleet of microsatellites may be deployed to individually rendezvous with a number of near Earth objects (NEOs), at very low cost. The mission enables, for the first time, the diverse properties of a range of spectral and physical type NEOs to be determined. Such data are invaluable to the scientific study, impact damage prediction, and impact countermeasure planning of NEOs. The five identical 120 kg spacecraft are designed for low-cost piggyback launch on Ariane-5 into GTO, from where each uses a gridded-ion engine to escape the Earth and ultimately to rendezvous with a different NEO target. The primary challenge with such a mission is the ability to accommodate the necessary electric propulsion, power, payload and other on-board systems within the constraints of a microsatellite. The paper describes the way in which the latest technological advancements have been selected and applied to the mission design. The SIMONE design is feasible and clearly demonstrates that the concept of an "interplanetary microsatellite" is now realisable. (c) 2005 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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