[meteorite-list] Center Seeks Information On Potential Asteroids For Mission

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:11 2004
Message-ID: <200110111500.IAA06455_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


University Relations
University of Arkansas

Derek Sears
Director, Arkansas-Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Sciences
(501) 575-5204, dsears_at_uark.edu

Melissa Blouin
Science and research communications manager
(501) 575-5555, blouin_at_uark.edu



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- University of Arkansas researchers are seeking a few
good asteroids for a space mission, and they need information about these
planetary bodies from scientists who study them to determine which ones
make the best-suited candidates for the study.

"With improved technology, we are swamped with the discovery of near-Earth
asteroids," said Derek Sears, director of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Center for
Space and Planetary Sciences. "What we need now is some ground-based data
to help select possible asteroids for this mission."

The mission, dubbed Hera after the mother of the Three Graces, would send
a spacecraft to three near-Earth asteroids, collect material from them and
return it to Earth for research purposes. The researchers plan to propose
the mission to NASA within the next 12 months.

Leon Gefert of NASA's Glenn Research Center has calculated about 60
possible trajectories for the mission, where the spacecraft would follow
a path to collect samples from the three asteroids and then return to
Earth. From this data, Sears and his colleagues have created a "hot list"
of asteroids that appear more than once in these trajectories, and now
they are seeking information about them.

The researchers need spectral information to determine which trio of
asteroids might prove most scientifically interesting and information
about the asteroids' orbits around the sun to determine the most efficient
travel path to keep fuel expenditures low. Other information essential to
the mission includes the asteroid's size, shape and rotation state. This
will help determine where the spacecraft might land on the asteroid and
how it would obtain sample material, Sears said.

The researchers are also combing international databases containing
information about known near-Earth asteroids for information pertinent to
their mission.

Sears presented his request for information at a recent meeting of the
Meteoritical Society in Rome. For more information or to see the "hot
list" please see

     http://www.uark.edu/misc/hera/searsrome01.pdf (83KB)
Received on Thu 11 Oct 2001 11:00:33 AM PDT

Help support this free mailing list:

Yahoo MyWeb