Uncontrolled Motion for Asteroid Missions

An Application to the Binary Asteroid 1999 KW4

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This thesis focused on the relevance and feasibility of an uncontrolled cubesat mission in a binary asteroid environment, highlighting the example of the representative Near-Earth Asteroid 1999 KW4, modelled using the TU Delft Astrodynamics Tool (TUDAT). A clear distinction was made between orbits of the cubesat starting in the interior and the exterior ring of the binary for numerical computations. Lifetimes over 100 days were found in the interior ring through a family of so-called pseudo-periodic orbits around the primary asteroid, with some that withstand the introduction of various uncertainties in the model. Reasonable lifetimes in the exterior ring were found to be around 60 days in the exterior ring, but could no longer be guaranteed after the sensitivity analysis. This suggests that targeting pseudo-periodic orbits is the best strategy to adopt. Velocity uncertainties in the initial state of the cubesat were observed to be the driving aspect in both the interior and exterior ring, as managing to lower them could shift a seemingly too risky run into an acceptable one w.r.t. our criteria.