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This content will become publicly available on May 1, 2017

Title: Deflection by kinetic impact: Sensitivity to asteroid properties

Impacting an asteroid with a spacecraft traveling at high speed delivers an impulsive change in velocity to the body. In certain circumstances, this strategy could be used to deflect a hazardous asteroid, moving its orbital path off of an Earth-impacting course. However, the efficacy of momentum delivery to asteroids by hypervelocity impact is sensitive to both the impact conditions (particularly velocity) and specific characteristics of the target asteroid. We numerically model asteroid response to kinetic impactors under a wide range of initial conditions, using an Adaptive Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics code. Impact velocities spanning 1–30 km/s were investigated, yielding, for a particular set of assumptions about the modeled target material, a power-law dependence consistent with a velocity-scaling exponent of μ = 0.44. Target characteristics including equation of state, strength model, porosity, rotational state, and shape were varied, and corresponding changes in asteroid response were documented. Moreover, the kinetic-impact momentum-multiplication factor, β, decreases with increasing asteroid cohesion and increasing porosity. Although increased porosity lowers β, larger porosities result in greater deflection velocities, as a consequence of reduced target masses for asteroids of fixed size. Porosity also lowers disruption risk for kinetic impacts near the threshold of disruption. Including fast (P = 2.5more » h) and very fast (P = 100 s) rotation did not significantly alter β but did affect the risk of disruption by the impact event. Asteroid shape is found to influence the efficiency of momentum delivery, as local slope conditions can change the orientation of the crater ejecta momentum vector. Our results emphasize the need for asteroid characterization studies to bracket the range of target conditions expected at near-Earth asteroids while also highlighting some of the principal uncertainties associated with the kinetic-impact deflection strategy.« less
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  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0019-1035
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Accepted Manuscript
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Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 269; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0019-1035
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES Impact processes; Asteroids; Cratering; Asteroids; Dynamics; Asteroids; Rotation