Passive sorting of asteroid material using solar radiation pressure

Daniel Garcia Yarnoz, Joan-Pau Sanchez Cuartielles, Colin McInnes

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Understanding dust dynamics in the vicinity of asteroids is key for future science missions and, in the long-term, for asteroid exploitation. This paper analyses the feasibility of manipulating asteroid material by means of solar radiation pressure. A novel method is proposed for passively sorting material as a function of its grain size or density, where solar radiation pressure is used as a passive in-situ ‘mass spectrometer’. A simplified analysis shows that in principle this method allows an effective sorting of regolith material. This could have immediate applications for a sample return mission, and for industrial scale in-situ resource utilization to separate and concentrate regolith according to particle size or composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1235
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics
Issue number4
Early online date28 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Event23rd AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference - Kauai, Hawaii, United States
Duration: 10 Feb 201314 Feb 2013


  • asteroid exploitation
  • asteroid resource utilisation
  • solar radiation pressure
  • near Earth asteroids

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