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Asteroid Initiative Wiki 020114


NASA Posts Final Asteroid Workshop Report
Jan. 30, 2014
Cover image for the Asteroid Initiative Ideas Synthesis Final Report
This report summarizes the discussions and recommendations that emerged from the Asteroid Initiative Ideas Synthesis Workshop.

In 2013, NASA kicked off the Asteroid Redirect Mission and the Asteroid Grand Challenge, collectively known as the Asteroid Initiative. On June 18, we issued a Request for Information to seek innovative ideas that could help NASA refine the objectives of the Asteroid Initiative and initial ARM concepts, to explore alternative mission concepts, and to broaden participation in the mission and planetary defense. Those ides were discussed at a fall 2013 workshop. Today, NASA posted the final report summarizing the workshop discussion and recommendations.

Pie Chart showing RFI responses by type of organization
This pie chart shows the RFI responses by organization type. Individuals were the clear majority of respondents.

An unprecedented response followed the release of the RFI: the agency received 402 responses, 40 percent of which were from individuals and members of the general public.

All the ideas were evaluated and rated. 96 of the ideas were chosen to explore in greater depth at the Asteroid Initiative Workshop, held in two parts at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. The first part took place on September 30 before the government shutdown, with 150 people attended in person. The workshop resumed on November 20-22, and approximately 120 people returned. Over 2,000 people were able to participate virtually.

The purpose of the workshop was to further examine and foster a broad discussion of the most promising ideas gathered via the RFI, and to identify and synthesize ideas that could help refine the concept to find, capture and redirect, and explore an asteroid and generate new ideas for planetary defense. The workshop participants also made recommendations for further studies and next steps.

This image of a patch of sky in the constellation Pisces is among the first taken by the revived NEOWISE spacecraft’s infrared cameras, and shows the ultimate target: asteroids. Appearing as a string of red dots, an asteroid can be seen in a series of exposures captured by the spacecraft.

We are already acting on the ideas submitted through the RFI process. The NEOWISE spacecraft was reactivated in September 2013 to search for near-Earth asteroids that could be potential targets for the ARM.

Other recommendations from the workshop include holding additional forums to engage citizens in the asteroid initiative, and creating incentive prizes for milestones in both the mission and grand challenge.

NASA’s Asteroid Initiative consists of two separate but related activities: the Asteroid Redirect Mission and the Asteroid Grand Challenge.  NASA is developing concepts for the mission, which would use a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid (7 to 10 meters), or remove a boulder (1 to 10 meters) from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon. Astronauts launched aboard the Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System rocket would rendezvous with the captured asteroid material in lunar orbit, and collect samples for return to Earth.

The grand challenge is seeking the best ideas to find all asteroid threats to human populations, and to accelerate the work that NASA is already doing for planetary defense. The Asteroid Initiative will leverage and integrate NASA’s activities in human exploration, space technology, and space science to advance the technologies and capabilities needed for future human and robotic exploration, to enable the first human mission to interact with asteroid material, and to accelerate efforts to detect, track, characterize, and mitigate the threat of potentially hazardous asteroids.

The full report can be viewed at:


For more information about planned events and NASA’s asteroid initiative, visit:



Asteroid Initiative Related Documents

FY 2014 Asteroid Strategy – April 10, 2013
Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot’s Presentation on Asteroid Strategy (1.3 MB PDF)

30 January 2014 — Asteroid Initiative Ideas Synthesis Workshop Final Report summarizing the discussions and recommendations that emerged from the workshop.
» Download the final report (9.5 MB PDF)

30 January 2014 — Asteroid Redirect Mission Status Update Briefings

18 September 2013 – Asteroid Redirect Mission Status Update and Mission Formulation Review Technical Briefings
A status update of NASA’s preparations for an Asteroid Redirect Mission by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot is provided.  This includes results of the Mission Formulation Review on July 30.
» Current status and overview of the Mission Formulation Review — Robert Lightfoot, NASA HQ

Asteroid Redirect Mission study team leaders presented the following study technical results to NASA leadership during a Mission Formulation Review on July 30. Some content has been removed to comply with Export Control regulations.

Sept. 11, 2013 – AIAA Space 2013 Conference – Lunchtime Panel Moderated by Human Exploration and Operations Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier
» NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission

June 19, 2013 – Asteroid Redirect Mission Overview Briefing:
» Asteroid Redirect Mission Overview, Presented 19 June 2013 to the Technical Panel of the National Research Council Committee for Study on Human Spaceflight (3 MB PDF)

June 18, 2013 – Industry and Partner Day Presentations:

June 18, 2013 – Asteroid Initiative RFI:
› Learn More

Technical References:
The following references are offered to potential RFI respondents as background information related to NASA’s Asteroid Initiative.



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A Grand Challenge to “Find All Asteroid Threats To Human Populations And Know What To Do About Them”

Initial Brainstorming Wiki to Explore Ideas for Accelerating and Expanding the Global Effort to Protect our Planet from Asteroid Threats with the Interested Community

Background and Purpose of Wiki

On June 18, 2013 NASA released an RFI seeking public input on the following topic areas related to the Asteroid Grand Challenge:

  1. Asteroid Observation: NASA is interested in concepts for augmenting and accelerating ground and space-based capabilities for detecting all near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) – including those less than 10 meters in size that are in retrievable orbits – determining their orbits, and characterizing their shape, rotation state, mass, and composition as accurately as possible.
  2. Asteroid Deflection Demonstration: NASA is interested in concepts for deflecting the trajectory of an asteroid using the robotic Asteroid Redirection Vehicle (ARV) that would be effective against objects large enough to do significant damage at the Earth’s surface should they impact (i.e. > 100 meters in size). These demonstrations could include but not limited to:
    • a. Use of the ARV to demonstrate a slow push trajectory modification on a larger asteroid.
    • b. Use of the ARV to demonstrate a “gravity tractor” technique on an asteroid.
    • c. Use of ARV instrumentation for investigations useful to planetary defense (e.g. sub-surface penetrating imaging)
    • d. Use of deployables from the ARV to demonstrate techniques useful to planetary defense (e.g. deployment of a stand alone transponder for continued tracking of the asteroid over a longer period of time).
  3. Partnerships and Participatory Engagement: NASA is interested in ideas and concepts for potential partnerships to support both aspects of the Asteroid Initiative: enhancements to planetary defense activities and the Asteroid Redirect Mission. NASA wants to expand upon current NEA observation efforts through the use of innovative methods such as crowd sourcing, prizes and challenges, citizen science, and public-private partnerships to increase the resources for tackling the planetary defense problem and to broaden participation. NASA is interested in ideas that address the following questions:
    • a. How can NASA encourage commercial and international partnerships to leverage the Asteroid Initiative to advance human exploration goals such as in-situ resource utilization, and to strengthen planetary defense?
    • b. What organizations are potential partners, and how can we involve a broad community?
    • c. What would make participating in the Asteroid Initiative highly desirable for your organization or agency from financial, strategic, technological, and cultural perspectives?
    • d. How can we generate momentum with near-term goals?
    • e. What do we need to know with more certainty to expand planetary defense capabilities?
    • f. What other applications may result from investments in technologies to support the Asteroid Initiative?
    • g. How do you see the Asteroid Initiative contributing to our nation’s future role in space?

An Asteroid Initiative Synthesis Workshop, held in Houston, TX September 30- October 2, 2013 will feature the highest rated ideas in response to the RFI. This wiki seeks to co-locate ideas, background, important questions, and sample near-term success metrics to stimulate and enable further discussions on the following topics at the workshop:

  • Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing
  • Maker/ Hacker Community Engagement
  • Incentive Prizes
  • Next Generation Engagement

The purpose of this document is to capture the co-created implementation planning for the Asteroid Grand Challenge from the global community over time. Several pieces of information are contained in this wiki (color coded) including:

  • Background
  • Key questions to be explored by the community
  • Sample success criteria that could be used over time to assess global progress towards to ultimate goal to find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them
  • Example initiatives led by NASA or community members to address parts of the overall initiative

Several other important topics to the Grand Challenge will be discussed in forums other than the workshop in Houston, for example:

  • The Role of Science Fiction and Hollywood in public perception and engagement
  • The economics of planetary defense
  • Ground based and space based observation partnerships
  • International partnerships for planetary defense

The ideas, background, important questions, and sample near-term success metrics in preparation for and resulting from those discussions will be incorporated into this wiki over time.
Please use the navigation to the right to get into specific topical pages.

Asteroid Initiative Wiki 020114B Asteroid Initiative Wiki 020114C
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