Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Asteroid Grand Tour Determined by Scientists

Pictured is asteroid Ida with its small moon, 1993(2433)1 Dactyl, or simply Dactyl. Yes, here is an asteroid with a tiny asteroid orbiting around it. Scientists have been wanting to study asteroids even more these days. The problem is that there are too many of them and launching a space probe to any one of them may prove to be too expensive for such a small target with little expected scientific returns. Thus, they have decided to get teams to come up with an Asteroid Grand Tour in which an unmanned spacecraft shall visit at least four of a single or related type in an optimized manner.

The winning trajectory was identified by a team from the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy. Two professors, Lorenzo Casalino and Guido Colasurdo, along with Ph.D. student Matteo Rosa Sentinella and graduate student Francesco Cacciatore, successfully eliminated billions of possible asteroid trips to focus on the most practical ones. Their winning proposal, involves visits to four different asteroids in over nine years.

The Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition was instituted in 2005 by Dario Izzo of the European Space Agency's Advanced Concepts Team.

No comments: