Number 19: 24/03/2002
A scientific publication by SGF and NEODyS

Special: the results of ESA's call for proposal

Mission: "EUNEOS"

Description of the study :

EUNEOS is a space survey from an inner Solar System orbit that has the goal of discovering the most dangerous NEOs, the so-called Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs). Often they are also the ones that are most difficult to detect from ground-based observatories: those whose aparent distance to the Sun on the sky is small (i.e. those having small solar elengations).

After a launch with Soyuz-Fregat, the spacecraft will be trasfered to a 0.5 x 0.7 AU eliptical orbit using its own chemical propulsion system and Venus gravity assist manouvre. From this orbit the system will carry out a survey of the +/- 20 deg ecliptic latitude and +/-130 deg solar elongation band every three days (see image of the mission configuration).

The spacecraft payload will consist of 30 cm aperture telescope, derived from the Corotel instrument design proposed for CNES´s COROT mission.


The study team

Alcatel Space V. Martinot, P.Brousse, S. Guilbert, D. Mimoun, O. Pansart, F. Guerin - (Management, Mission analysis, payload design, System design)
Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur A. Morbidelli (Mission Objectives requirements, User requirements synthesis, support to system outline)
University of Pisa A. Milani, R.Jedicke - (NEO orbit restitution, Accuracy needs)
Spaceguard Central Node G. Valsecchi (Coordination with Spaceguard)


Scientific objectives

"The EUNEOS (European NEO Survey) project consists in the study of the best possibilities to find NEOs from space... We will find the optimal trade-off between survey strategy, telescope size, satellite orbit, observation wavelength: ultimately, between performance and cost. A preliminary analysis shows that a telescope of a moderate size mounted on board a satellite on an inner Solar system orbit should be able to detect 90% of the dangerous ~280m NEOs in 5 years. If this is confirmed, then the future of NEO searches may be in space.

The EUNEOS project is the natural outcome of a study on the distribution of Near Earth Objects, commissioned by ESA to the group of planetary science of Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in Nice (France), and performed jointly with scientists at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder (Colorado) and Lunar & Planetary Laboratory in Tucson (Arizona).
The results of this study are available to the public at the Internet address http://www.obs-nice.fr/morby/ESA/esa.html."

Our study has revealed that the NEOs are much easier to find if they are searched from a point closer to the Sun than the Earth. The closer to the Sun, the better. Even the most difficult NEOs become "easy" from the inner solar system. Our study therefore concluded that "Space agencies should seriously consider the possibility of developing a dedicated space-based NEO survey, on-board a spacecraft placed in the inner solar system". The EUNEOS project is precisely this: the study of the best possibilities to find NEOs from space. Thanks to the partnership between the scientists of the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, the engeneers of Alcatel space, the group of space dynamics of the University of Pisa and the Spaceguard central node, in the next 6 months we will find the optimal trade-off between survey strategy, telescope size, satellite orbit, observation wavelength: ultimately, between performance and cost. A preliminary analysis shows that a telescope of a moderate size mounted on board a satellite on an inner Solar system orbit should be able to detect 90% of the dangerous ~280m NEOs in 5 years. If this is confirmed, then the future of NEO searches may be in space."

 

from the article by Alessandro Morbidelli (Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur) and V. Martinot Alcatel Space), taken from Tumbling Stone's special issue Link to the full article


Project EUNEOS in the media:

ESA's GSP web site (10/03/2003): "EUNEOS" link

Tumbling Stone n.15 (25/07/2002) "The EUNEOS project: looking for NEOs from space" by A. Morbidelli and V. Martinot: link

"Study on the distribution of Near Earth Objects", Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in Nice (France): link


Downloads (click on the images to download):

Image: A drawing of the mission configuration - credits: Alcatel

Image: a 3d image of EUNEOS 
credits: Alcatel