Deflection of Earth-crossing asteroids/comets using rendezvous spacecraft and laser ablation

Sang Young Park, Daniel D. Mazanek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Space missions are presented to deflect four fictitious Earth impacting objects by using an advanced magnetoplasma spacecraft designed to deliver a laser ablation payload. The laser energy required to provide sufficient change in velocity is estimated for one long-period comet and three asteroids, and an optimal rendezvous trajectory is provided for each threat scenario. The end-to-end simulations provide an overall concept for solving the deflection problem. These analyses illustrate that the optimal deflection strategy is highly dependent on the size and the orbital elements of the impacting object, as well as the amount of warning time. A rendezvous spacecraft with a multi-megawatt laser ablation payload could be available by the year 2050. This approach could provide a capable and robust orbit modification approach for altering the orbits of Earth-crossing objects with relatively small size or long warning time. Significant technological advances, multiple spacecraft, or alternative deflection techniques are required for a feasible scenario to protect Earth from an impacting celestial body with large size and short warning time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Astronautical Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jan

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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