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Ebbets presents "Small Landing Probes for In-Situ Characterization of Asteroids and Comets" poster at AAS
January 7, 2007
Rendering of landing probe.
Boulder, Colo. - The 2007 American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Seattle, Jan 5-10, will include a poster presentation depicting a small landing probe design developed by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. The poster will be presented by Dennis Ebbets, Senior Business Development Manager for Ball Aerospace's Space Science division in Boulder, CO, beginning at 9:20 a.m. (PST) on Jan. 7.
Led by Staff Consultant Richard Reinert and Ball's Deputy Director for Solar System Advanced Systems Rich Dissly, Ball Aerospace has a developed a landing probe design concept that would enable characterization of both the surface and interior of small solar system objects, such as asteroids and comets, as part of future space missions to such targets.
"The basic probe designed by Ball Aerospace could become a low-cost component of future missions that would enable a rich spectrum of in-situ investigations to a large number of target bodies," said Ebbets. "In many cases more than one probe may be desired to sample different regions or to work together as a network of sensors."
The probe design is roughly the size of a basketball, allowing for several to be carried by a rendezvous spacecraft and deployed individually. They are intended to survive a freefall to the surface, impacting with a velocity of only a few meters/second. Deployable panels on the nominally spherical body are designed to ensure self-righting to an operational orientation.
Each probe could accommodate a payload of several kilograms, optimized for its particular investigation. Candidates include imagers, accelerometers, X-Ray spectrometers, sample collection and examination mechanisms, and possibly pyrotechnic charges for seismic excitation or cratering experiments. The probe provides a standard suite of services such as battery power, data management and communications with the rendezvous spacecraft. Ball Aerospace is also studying options for mobility, such as "hopping", and for anchoring to the surface of a micro-gravity body.
The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The basic objective of the AAS is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high-quality metal and plastic packaging products and owns Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Ball reported 2005 sales of $5.8 billion and employs 15,600 people.
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