Disassembly of Near Earth Asteroids by Leveraging Rotational Self Energy

Viale, A. , McInnes, C. and Ceriotti, M. (2018) Disassembly of Near Earth Asteroids by Leveraging Rotational Self Energy. In: 69th International Astronautical Congress, Bremen, Germany, 1-5 Oct 2018, pp. 13608-13617. ISBN 9781510881655

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One of the key challenges for future space exploration is to envisage efficient ways to exploit the material resources available in the family of near-Earth asteroids. These resources have been recognised as a potentially lower cost alternative sources of materials to those launched to Earth escape (such as water, metals and liquid propellants). Several studies have investigated the accessibility of these resources, as those asteroids are among the easiest celestial bodies to reach from Earth. These scenarios will require, in particular, the design of efficient methods to lift material from the surface of near-Earth asteroids, for direct exploitation or for partial disassembly. In the latter case this is to increase the exposed surface area of the material, for example to harvest water using solar concentrator technologies. In this paper, an efficient concept is presented to raise material from the surface of a rotating asteroid. Building on the orbital siphon concept it is shown that, by connecting multiple payloads from the surface of an ideal spherical asteroid as an n-body tethered system, the centrifugal pull due to the body’s spin can overcome the gravitational force on the payloads, eventually allowing the resource payloads to escape. A stream of such payloads can therefore be envisaged to provide a continuous mass flow from the surface of the asteroid into orbit without the need for external work to be done. The paper will use this initial analysis of the mechanics of the problem to investigate the engineering requirements for such a resource extraction system such as tether length, tension and anchoring force requirements, achievable mass flow rates for candidate objects.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Viale, Mr Andrea and Ceriotti, Dr Matteo and McInnes, Professor Colin
Authors: Viale, A., McInnes, C., and Ceriotti, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher
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