Near Earth Object Modelling and Payloads for Protection
Planetary defence, science or resource missions to asteroids require new advances in numerical modelling, payload development, data processing technology, and operational capabilities. The NEO-MAPP consortium includes scientific and industrial experts with a solid expertise in asteroid science and space missions and is, therefore, ideally placed to further advance NEO scientific research and technologies. In a multi-disciplinary and synergetic approach, NEO-MAPP incorporates two activities: numerical modelling, and technology and data processing developments. NEO-MAPP will bring modelling capabilities well beyond the state-of-the-art, producing major advancements in our understanding of the response of NEOs to a kinetic impact or an Earth encounter, and of their physical and dynamical properties. NEO-MAPP will also increase the maturity of five innovative payloads specifically optimized for NEO space missions and devoted to the surface, sub-surface and internal properties of a NEO; parameters that are currently poorly constrained yet of high importance to planetary defence. In parallel, the NEO-MAPP team will define innovative measurement and data processing strategies, combining multiple payloads, in order to maximize the exploitation of scientific and technical data. These objectives will be addressed by adopting a framework of two “Reference Missions”. The team will ensure that the mission scenarios are both highly relevant to the current international and European programmatic context while remaining generic enough to be transposable to any alternative scenarios. NEO-MAPP will thus provide significant advances in our understanding of NEOs while ensuring the future leadership of European scientists and engineers in both planetary defence and small-body exploration. The project outcome, especially regarding impact mitigation (but also asteroid mining), responds to a public demand and, therefore, will have a high social and environmental impact.