- DatesJune 2016 – September 2016 (four months).
- SponsorUK Space Agency.
We are exploring potential opportunities for fast, low-energy multiple asteroid fly-by trajectories, from 2029 and beyond. Our research in the CASTPath project (asteroid belt multiple fly-by options for M-class, or medium-size, missions) provides trajectory design support to the UK-led CASTAway (Comet and Asteroid Space Telescope Away in the asteroid belt) asteroid spectroscopic survey mission.
The CASTAway mission proposal will be submitted to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) call for medium-size missions in late 2016. CASTAway merges two very different space mission concepts; it is a space-based telescope on one hand but is also an interplanetary probe attempting to visit as many asteroids as possible. The mission is proposed to answer many key questions about the formation and evolution of the asteroid main belt, between Mars and Jupiter, and so help us understand how our solar system formed.
We have demonstrated the feasibility to fly-by 10 asteroids with current launch capability and within the cost cap of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) medium-size missions. Potential extra launcher performance provided by the next generation of European launchers (Ariane 6 – which has a first test flight scheduled for 2020) will allow access to the deepest regions of the asteroid main belt.