Availability and Delta-V Requirements for Delivering Water Extracted from Near-Earth Objects to Cis-Lunar Space
We have calculated the number of water-bearing near-Earth objects as a function of return-trip delta-v (ΔvRT). First, we combined a model of the near-Earth object's (NEO) orbit and size-frequency distribution with other measurements of their provenance, and the taxonomic distribution of asteroids in the NEO's main belt sources, to calculate the taxonomic distribution of NEOs as a function of their orbital elements and size. Our calculations are in agreement with recent measurements of the ratio of C- and S-complex bodies within the population of small NEOs. Then we developed a simplified mission model to calculate an upper limit on ΔvRT for a mission from an NEO to distant retrograde lunar orbit (DRLO) in cis-lunar space. Combining the first two steps allowed us to develop a synthetic population of low ΔvRT NEOs that includes their taxonomic distribution. Finally, we used measurements of the water-bearing content of the taxonomic classes based on their assumed meteorite associations to calculate the number of water-bearing NEOs as a function of ΔvRT. We find that there are likely thousands of H2O-rich NEOs larger than about 5 m diameter with ΔvRT≲3kms−1 and the number of objects increases as ΔvRT 3. The rapid increase in the number of objects with ΔvRT suggests that in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) of asteroid-derived water can expand quickly throughout the solar system. NEOs with ΔvRT≲3kms−1 tend to be on Earth-like orbits with semi-major axes a∼1au, eccentricities e≳0, and inclinations i≳0⁰. The small, dark, low ΔvRT NEOs are difficult or impossible to detect with Earth-based telescopes because many orbit the Sun interior to Earth's orbit and others have such long synodic periods that they are rarely visible.
R. Jedicke et al., "Availability and Delta-V Requirements for Delivering Water Extracted from Near-Earth Objects to Cis-Lunar Space," Planetary and Space Science, vol. 159, pp. 28-42, Elsevier, Sep 2018.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2018.04.005
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Keywords and Phrases
ISRU; Near-Earth object; NEO; Taxonomy; Water-mining
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Article - Journal
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