Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Foresight Wins Planetary Society's $25,000 Apophis Design Competition
SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia in conjunction with SpaceDev, Inc., Poway, California has won the $25,000 prize money from the Planetary Society for the best design of a mission to rendezvous with and "tag" a potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroid. The mission design was called Foresight.
Tagging would allow scientists to track an asteroid accurately enough to determine whether it will impact Earth, thus helping governments decide whether to mount a deflection mission to alter its orbit.
The Apophis Mission Design Competition winners will have their plans now reviewed by NASA and ESA space agencies which co-sponsored The Planetary Society’s competition. The near-Earth asteroid, Apophis, was used as the target for the mission design because it will come closer to Earth in 2029 than the orbit of our geostationary satellites. (That’s close enough to be visible to the naked eye.) If it passes through a small “keyhole” as it travels by Earth, its trajectory could be diverted so that it will impact Earth in 2036.