Small Missions to Asteroids and Comets (SMACS)

* First aircraft launched interplanetary missionl

* First in situ reconnaissance for near-Earth space resources and of potential Earth colliders

* First appfications of new transponder, detector, and instrument technology

* First PI managed Planetary Missionl

SMACS (Small Missions to Asteroids and Comets) is a series of four low cost Pegasus XL (Orbital Sciences Corporation) launched flyby encounters to specially selected targets in near-Earth space.

* P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, an active comet nucleus.

* Phaethon, an F-type asteroid likely to be a dormant or extinct comet nucleus.

* 1986 DA (M-type), possibly a fragment of the core of a collisionally destroyed planet.

* Ra-Shalom (C-type), primitive material from which the planets were constructed.

Interplanetary Trajectories and Flyby Geometries (each GIF = 50 KBytes)

SMACS provides frequent launch and guest science investigator opportunities. The Baseline Mission calls for four launches within 19 months; First Launch: November, 1998; Last encounter is in January, 2001. Under an innovative Enhancement and Descope Plan designed to provide maximum incentive for mission success, SMACS has a Performance Floor at three flights - but as many as five flights and ten encounters are possible with an extended mission.

Schedule of Launches and Encounters (GIF = 73 KBytes)

SMACS features low mission costs per flight and conservative margin management. Total mission costs including launch vehicles average out at $48.3M (FY925) per flight in the baseline mission.

SMACS will characterize the physical, compositional, and geological state of extreme types of asteroids and cometary nuclei to learn the causes of their diversity and how they evolve. SMACS initiates a detailed in situ survey of near-Earth objects as future space exploration resources.

SMACS will strengthen the foundations of our knowledge on the types of objects that are most likely to have catastrophic collisions with the Earth.

SMACS features an independent Opportunities Office to ensure maximum technology transfer, infusion, public awareness, and social-economic benefits. Opportunities for Small Businesses and Small Disadvantaged Business are emphasized and Discovery goals are exceeded.

SMACS features a single instrument of novel and advanced design to keep the mission scientifically focused and yet obtain the highest scientific productivity. Heritage in military technology is transferred to civilian applica tions. The instrument is an 8.5 kg, 20 cm aperture, combined near-IR mapping spectrometer (0.85-4.8 micron; lambda/delta-lambda ~300) and high-resolution (5 uradian/pixel), visible-range, multicolor camera designed and provided by Hughes Aerospace & Electronics Company (HAEC-EOS). It will yield ~4700 spectral and geological images and over 5000 spectra (0.85-4.8m) of resolved locations at each of the targets (~1.2 Gbit/encounter) with surface resolutions up to 4 m/pixel for some encounters and revolutionize our understanding of these objects. SMACS utilizes an innovative spacecraft design provided by Ball Aerospace Systems Division. Keynoted by its simplicity and reliability, it is a small 3-axis stabilized cylindrical structure with no deployable parts. Stabilization is maintained relative to an internal momentum wheel, star-tracker and four sun-sensors. It is 1.15 m in diameter, and 1.63 m high; fully loaded with propellant its mass is 94 kg. A "smart" guidance camera automatically maintains pointing during encounter as image-taking drift sequences occur.

SMACS project plan includes the development and first use of the Small Deep Space Transponder as new technology; leading to reductions of 60% in mass, and 40% in volume, 80% in test time, over the current technology baseline transponder.

SMACS is a Principal Investigator project managed under a teaming arrangement between the PI (Michael J.S. Belton, National Optical Astronomy Observatories), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Ball Aerospace Systems Division. The Project Manager is Ronald F. Draper (JPL). Co-Investigators are: Jessica Sunshine, Karen Meech, Joseph Veverka, Michael Malin, Michael A'Hearn, Kenneth Klaasen, and Alan Delamere.

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