New Hypervelocity Terminal Intercept Guidance Systems for Deflecting/Disrupting Hazardous Asteroids
Computational modeling and simulations of visual and infrared (IR) sensors are investigated for a new hypervelocity terminal guidance system of intercepting small asteroids (50 to 150 meters in diameter). Computational software tools for signal-to-noise ratio estimation of visual and IR sensors, estimation of minimum and maximum ranges of target detection, and GPU (Graphics Processing Units)-accelerated simulations of the IR-based terminal intercept guidance systems are developed. Scaled polyhedron models of known objects, such as the Rosetta mission's Comet 67P/C-G, NASA's OSIRIS-REx Bennu, and asteroid 433 Eros, are utilized in developing a GPU-based simulation tool for the IR-based terminal intercept guidance systems. A parallelized-ray tracing algorithm for simulating realistic surface-to-surface shadowing of irregular-shaped asteroids or comets is developed. Polyhedron solid-angle approximation is also considered. Using these computational models, digital image processing is investigated to determine single or multiple impact locations to assess the technical feasibility of new planetary defense mission concepts of utilizing a Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle (HAIV) or a Multiple Kinetic-energy Interceptor Vehicle (MKIV). Study results indicate that the IR-based guidance system outperforms the visual-based system in asteroid detection and tracking. When using an IR sensor, predicting impact locations from filtered images resulted in less jittery spacecraft control accelerations than conducting missions with a visual sensor. Infrared sensors have also the possibility to detect asteroids at greater distances, and if properly used, can aid in terminal phase guidance for proper impact location determination for the MKIV system. Emerging new topics of the Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) estimation and the Full-Two-Body Problem (F2BP) formulation are also investigated to assess a potential near-Earth object collision risk and the proximity gravity effects of an irregular-shaped binary-asteroid target on a standoff nuclear explosion mission.