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ExploRing the surface slopes Of aSteroids

Project description

Taking a closer look at near-Earth asteroids

The smallest bodies in the solar system, asteroids can pose a big threat to Earth. Scientists are studying ways to deflect potentially hazardous Earth-bound asteroids. The first step in any plan is understanding the near-surface and interior structure of asteroids. The EU-funded EROS project is developing a rapid and low-cost method to understand the interior structure of asteroids. It will be possible to compare asteroids by measuring their surface slopes at the same horizontal scale. Specifically, EROS will develop a slope metric on the two asteroids that have been studied in the highest detail of any asteroids but have different interior structures: Eros and Itokawa, which have been orbited and landed on by spacecraft.

Objective

Understanding the near-surface and interior structure of asteroids is required in order to model changes to the asteroid’s trajectory, as may be necessary to deflect a hazardous asteroid, and for understanding the asteroid’s response to the landing of either humans or robots on the surface. Here, I propose to investigate the surface topography of asteroids to develop a surface slope metric that can probe the near-surface and interior structure of asteroids from shape models alone. This will provide a rapid and low-cost method to understand asteroid structure from flyby data rather than the more expensive and time-consuming rendezvous mission. By measuring the surface slopes of asteroids at the same horizontal scale we can see past vastly different asteroid sizes, which will allow many asteroids to be compared to one another in an independent manner. The proposed action is broken into three parts. The first part of the action is focused on developing a slope metric on the two asteroids that have been studied in the highest detail of any asteroids but have different interior structures, Eros and Itokawa. The second part involves investigating how sub-surface structure affects surface slope in a linked geomorphic seismic shaking model where we will be able to test the physical processes that affect surface slope. Finally, in the last part of the study, we will apply the slope metric to asteroids with low-resolution shape models to probe their interior and near-surface structure.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL
Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
Address
BEACON HOUSE QUEENS ROAD
BS8 1QU Bristol
United Kingdom

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Region
South West (England) Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area Bristol, City of
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 224 933,76