Feasibility study for near-earth-object tracking by a piggybacked micro-satellite with penetrators

P. Weiss, W. Leung, Kai Leung Yung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


As of August 2007, over 5000 near-earth-objects (NEO) have been discovered. Some already represent a potential danger to the Earth while others might become hazards in the future. The Planetary Society organised in 2007 the "Apophis Mission Design Competition" in response to this potential threat with the objective to identify promising concepts to track NEOs; the asteroid 99942 Apophis was taken as the study case. This paper describes the "Houyi" proposal which was evaluated by the competition jury as an innovative approach to this problem. Instead of launching a large satellite for NEO tracking, this novel concept proposes a miniaturized satellite that is piggybacked onto a larger (scientific) mission. Such mission design would drastically reduce the costs for NEO surveillance. The presented scenario uses the ESA's SOLO mission as a design baseline for the piggyback option. This paper summarizes the architecture of this CubeSat towards Apophis and extends the previous study by focusing on the feasibility of a piggybacked mission in terms of propulsion requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-919
Number of pages7
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010


  • Apophis
  • Asteroid
  • CubeSat
  • Don Quijote
  • NEO
  • SOLO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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