Small-sat design from Lockheed Martin chosen for NASA asteroid-imaging missionNews
June 20, 2019
DENVER. Lockheed Martin has been chosen to design dual small deep-space spacecraft to visit near-earth asteroids for the "Janus" mission, which is led by the University of Colorado Boulder.
Janus -- one of NASA's Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) finalists -- is designed to fly by two binary asteroids, or asteroids orbiting a common center of mass, to get images of the objects using both visible and infrared cameras. The mission is aimed at investigating how binary asteroids are formed and evaluating existing theories regarding how these systems evolve.
SIMPLEx is a cost-capped program focusing science investigations on solar system bodies, except for the earth and the sun, using small spacecraft lighter than 180 kg (nearly 400 pounds); the Janus mission is designed to meet these requirements.
The Janus mission -- set to launch in 2022 so as to reach the asteroid system in 2026 -- is led by UC Boulder principal investigator Dan Scheeres, along with Chris McCaa, Janus program manager at Lockheed Martin Space. If selected in the final stage, Lockheed Martin Space will design and build the spacecraft and provide mission operations after launch, with Malin Space Science Systems providing the instrument suite including visible and infrared cameras. The selected investigations will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.