NEOMAP final recommendations
The NEOMAP, which had the task of advising ESA on cost-effective options for participation in a space mission to contribute to our understanding of the terrestrial impact hazard and the physical nature of asteroids, placed its highest priority on the 3 rendezvous missions, and in particular on the Don Quijote mission concept.
Alan Harris, German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Berlin, and Chairman of NEOMAP, explained that “if you think about the chain of events between detecting a hazardous object and doing something about it, there is one area in which we have no experience at all and that is in directly interacting with an asteroid, trying to alter its orbit”.
From the NEOMAP Report:
"Of the three observatory missions reviewed, the Panel considers the EUNEOS (and Earthguard-1) NEO survey concept to be most compatible with the criteria and priorities established in this report. EUNEOS appears to be a feasible, efficient and largely self-reliant mission with the single aim of discovering potentially hazardous NEOs and establishing their orbits. However, it was concluded that at the present time a space-based NEO discovery mission, within the scope of those considered here, is not the highest priority given the combined efforts of the various ground-based surveys likely to be productive over the coming decade. A reasonable approach may be to re-consider a space-based NEO observatory mission at a later stage, once the residual hazard from NEOs not accessible to the ground-based surveys has become better defined.
Of the three rendezvous missions reviewed, the Panel considers the Don Quijote concept to be most compatible with the criteria and priorities established in this report. Don Quijote has the potential to teach us a great deal, not only about the internal structure of a NEO, but also about how to mechanically interact with it. Don Quijote is thus the only mission that could provide a vital missing link in the chain from threat identification to threat mitigation. Considering possible participation from countries outside Europe, the Panel felt that the Don Quijote concept is compatible with current interest and developments elsewhere and may readily attract the attention of potential partners.
Of all six missions reviewed, the Panel recommends that ESA gives highest priority to the Don Quijote concept as the basis for its participation in NEO impact-risk assessment and reduction."
Last update: 30 March 2006