DIRE - Dactyl-Ida Rendezvous Experiment
Adams, J. Brian
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The purpose of this paper is to discuss, at the system level, a theoretical spacecraft and mission named DIRE (Dactyl-Ida Rendezvous Experiment). The spacecraft will travel to the asteroid pair Dactyl and Ida, which is approximately 3 AU from the Sun, to achieve the following mission objectives: • Measure the magnetic fields around the asteroid pair and each object individually. • Take multispectral images at various altitudes to determine surface regolith composition and distribution. • Using ground penetrating radar, attempt to discern the hidden structure of Ida and Dactyl and answer this question: are asteroids actually many rocks loosely coalesced into a single body and held together by gravity, rather than a huge monolith? • Descend autonomously to each asteroid and retrieve samples of regolith, using micropropulsion systems. Analysis of regolith will then be performed with on board systems. • Near the end of the mission launch a ground-penetrating explosive into Dactyl in an attempt to split into its subparts. The purpose here is to develop a technique for neutralizing a possible Earth damaging asteroid by separating it into smaller, less dangerous objects. DIRE will then make radar measurements of the ensuing asteroid breakup and determine if and how the asteroid re-coalesces. • Get a first ever look at material from within an asteroid, after the explosive splits Dactyl. This mission uses features of previous spacecraft missions and adds a never before attempted explosive penetrator to probe deeply and precisely into an asteroid. Thus, this mission will add to deep space object science and perhaps provide a way for mankind to defend itself against them.