This project is solving the Asteroid Hunter challenge.
Through this brief proposal, we are attempting to create and illustrate a generalized platform for tracking speed, position, and orbit of the Apophis asteroid using a limited number of base function active transponders. We believe, after significant consideration, that an active signal being broadcasted from independent localized points on the asteroid itself minimizes both cost of materials and resources along with a guaranteed method for precision tracking of a high speed object that in the future can be used as a ready made homing beacon for trajectory altering options. We also believe based on the success of the initial project that the number of RTG powered radio transponders required for precision Earth based tracking can be decreased to just 2 or 3 per space object tracked in future years. This solution caters to near Earth space objects that inherently produce no gamma, micro, or other energy emitting source naturally.
Although some objects of extreme velocity would be more difficult to attach a transponder to, we believe due to Apophis relatively slow rotation, minimal escape velocity and low orbital eccentricity, the physics required to pin point its location along its orbital path and allow for a transponder’s unique base claw to securely grasp the surface is readily achieved with freely available commercial products and existing terrestrial signal receivers such as those used by SETI. With the contribution of others from the Dawn project that explored Vesta and Ceres, we would be able to refine our trajectories and minimize the impact speed in which each transponder will face. Almost every feature of this proposal can be explored and fully tested in its entirety on Earth prior to live deployment vastly minimizing potential fault points.
Some unique features that we feel are beneficial to the success of this project are:
A) Beacons are in an “always on” state and can begin transmitting locally even prior to launch for live testing purposes.
B) All aspects from launch, to delivery, to transmission, to reception, to data analysis are current standards in well practiced methodology using current commercially available goods.
C) The same transponders producing a signal will double as potential homing beacons for future solutions that may entail forcibly changing the trajectory of Apophis with other objects.
D) Because all transponders are built without the need for advanced onboard logic and transmit directly back to Earth, it vastly minimizes unknowns of advanced programming logic or cross transponder communication issues.
In conclusion, with the consistency of the physics required, how much we understand about Apophis and it's orbit, and the predictability of how radio transponders behave in space, it is very possible to rapidly compile these data sets into a computer simulation to both explore and test specifics to a high degree of accuracy. We believe through the cooperation of cross disciplines, not only would this program be achievable, it would be highly successful for tracking any object in space that does not emit traceable power sources.
Project InformationLicense: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0
Source Code/Project URL: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1EMtOQwqBG_V3M0RjFLUkZSajQ/edit?usp=sharing