Main Belt Asteroid Sample Return Mission Design

John Dankanich, Damon Landau, Michael Martini, Steven Oleson, Andy Rivkin
2010 46th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit   unpublished
The Dawn spacecraft is on its way to rendezvous with two main belt asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. The science community is already anticipating compelling results that would dictate a sample return mission. Asteroid sample return missions are already highlighted in the Decadal Survey and are directly solicited through the New Frontiers mission announcement of opportunities. There have been numerous studies of near-Earth asteroid sample return missions. NASA's In-Space Propulsion Technology project
more » ... Technology project initiated a study to evaluate the feasibility and propulsion system requirements of main belt asteroid sample return missions. The mission design trades, results, and propulsion system requirements are presented. 2 been upgraded to a dwarf planet. It is expected that the Dawn mission with answer fundamentally science questions, but also compel the science community to literally "dig deeper" and advocate for a sample return mission. NASA's In-Space Propulsion Technology (ISPT) project is tasked with developing propulsion technology to enhance or enable planetary science missions by increasing mission performance while reducing trip times, cost, and risk. ISPT products include Aerocapture, the Advanced Materials Bipropellant Rocket (AMBR) engine, NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT), and smaller investments in the High Voltage Hall Accelerator, and life testing of the BPT-4000. The AMBR engine, NEXT, and HiVHAC show mission capture for a wide range of challenging SMD missions. The ISPT project initiated a study to evaluate if a main belt sample return can be completed using existing technology, one of ISPT's products, or would require new propulsion technologies. The objective was to evaluate a representative main belt target and a challenging target. The results of that study are presented.
doi:10.2514/6.2010-7015 fatcat:o2nsxbjnbbbtvk7akdtecd5taa