Department of Aerospace Engineering Minta Martin Seminar Series
The Strength and Mechanics of Asteroids: Implications for Exploration and Mitigation
Speaker: Dan Scheeres
A. Richard Seebass Endowed Chair
Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences
University of Colorado at Boulder
Our understanding of the solar system’s small asteroids has progressed significantly over the last decades. These advances are due to space missions that have visited these bodies, international observing campaigns that have discovered and characterized these bodies, and significant advances in theory and simulation that allow us to probe the physics of these bodies. This intense focus has also exposed many new mysteries about their physical evolution, interior structure, and geophysical and geotechnical properties. The implications of these newly exposed questions go beyond asteroids, and can be related to planetary rings, proto-planetary discs, and the aftermath of catastrophic collisions between asteroids. Importantly, these open questions also motivate further exploration of these bodies and simultaneously place constraints on how we can interact with them using exploration vehicles. More sobering, our ability to deflect hazardous small bodies, such as Near Earth Asteroids on Earth impacting trajectories, may be fundamentally controlled by these unknown properties.
This talk will focus on the motivations for the exploration of asteroids, the constraints which this environment places on our interactions with them, and the implications of all this for our ability to mitigate them.
Daniel J. Scheeres is the A. Richard Seebass Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a member of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research. Prior to this he held faculty positions in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan and Iowa State University, and was a Senior Member of the Technical Staff in the Navigation Systems Section at the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was awarded PhD. (1992), M.S.E. (1988) and B.S.E (1987) degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and holds a B.S. in Letters and Engineering from Calvin College (1985). Scheeres is a Fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Astronautical Society. He is the past Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Division on Dynamical Astronomy, vice-president of the Celestial Mechanics Institute, and a member of the International Astronomical Union and the International Astronautical Federation. He was awarded the Dirk Brouwer Award from the American Astronautical Society in 2013 and gave the John Breakwell Lecture at the 2011 International Astronautical Congress. Asteroid 8887 is named “Scheeres” in recognition of his contributions to the scientific understanding of the dynamical environment about asteroids.
Link to flyer [PDF].