The NEOTωIST mission (Near-Earth Object Transfer of angular momentum spin test)

Line Drube, Alan W. Harris, Kilian Engel, Albert Falke, Ulrich Johann, Siegfried Eggl, Juan L. Cano, Javier Martín Ávila, Stephen R. Schwartz, Patrick Michel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a concept for a kinetic impactor demonstration mission, which intends to change the spin rate of a previously-visited asteroid, in this case 25143 Itokawa. The mission would determine the efficiency of momentum transfer during an impact, and help mature the technology required for a kinetic impactor mission, both of which are important precursors for a future space mission to deflect an asteroid by collisional means in an emergency situation. Most demonstration mission concepts to date are based on changing an asteroid's heliocentric orbit and require a reconnaissance spacecraft to measure the very small orbital perturbation due to the impact. Our concept is a low-cost alternative, requiring only a single launch. Taking Itokawa as an example, an estimate of the order of magnitude of the change in the spin period, δP, with such a mission results in δP of ∼4 min (0.5%), which could be detectable by Earth-based observatories. Our preliminary study found that a mission concept in which an impactor produces a change in an asteroid's spin rate could provide valuable information for the assessment of the viability of the kinetic-impactor asteroid deflection concept. Furthermore, the data gained from the mission would be of great benefit for our understanding of the collisional evolution of asteroids and the physics behind crater and ejecta-cloud development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalActa Astronautica
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroiddeflection
  • Asteroids
  • Impact hazard
  • Kinetic impactor
  • Near-Earth Objects
  • Planetary defense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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