Pasadena, California

14 October 2016

The 7th meeting of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place on 14 October 2016 ahead of the Division for Planetary Sciences and the European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, California. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) served as the permanent secretariat to the meeting.

1. Adoption of the agenda and introduction of participants.

Agenda was adopted. 16 participants (DLR, ESA, JAXA, KASI, NASA, UKSA, Austrian Space Forum, IAA, UNOOSA) attended the meeting, 5  representatives from ROSA, UNOOSA, ESA, NASA joined remotely.

2. Status of SMPAG

The Chair of SMPAG gave an overview of the 6th SMPAG meeting that was held in Vienna on the margins of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC), 16-17 February 2016, including on the holding of an Open Forum for Member States and general public on the work of the IAWN and SMPAG; the reporting on progress by the IAWN and SMPAG Chairs to STSC and on the following recommendations that were endorsed by STSC and by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space:  IAWN and SMPAG are to be regularly invited to the sessions of STSC as observers and will report annually on the progress of their work;  UNOOSA is to serve as the permanent secretariat to SMPAG; 30 June is to be declared by the UN General Assembly as the International Asteroid Day. These recommendations are included in the General Assembly resolution A/C.4/71/L.2 (paras. 9 and 10)[1]. The Chair also informed the meeting on the establishment of a SMPAG Ad Hoc Working Group on Legal Issues. Regarding SMPAG membership, the Czech Republic expressed interest in becoming a member.

3. Status of IAWN

Rob Landis (NASA) gave an overview on the progress of the work of the IAWN since the last meeting, including the set-up of the IAWN webpage (, the engagement of IAWN in the FEMA exercise and its planned active role in the Planetary Defence Conference in May 2017 in Japan. The next (5th) meeting is planned to be held on the margins of the 54th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, which will take place from 30 January to 10 February 2017.

At its 4th meeting, held on 13 October 2016 in Pasadena, several agreements were reached, including on 1) distance of close approaches: it should always be indicated which distance is meant – either the distance measured from the surface of the Earth (this would normally be used in press releases),  or in case of a table, distance from the centre of the Earth;  2) use of albedo values: it was agreed that normally a range of  0.05 – 0.25 is to be used,  or in case one fixed number - 0.14; 3) ESA and NASA presented their impact corridor tools; three cases will be used to compare the two tools; 4) Additional information is to be provided on expected damages as function of the distance from the impact location for the 6 classes of the Broomfield scale. These agreements will be put on the IAWN webpage.

4. The status of relevant missions was given:

  • Lindley Johnson, NASA, gave an update on the successful OSIRIS-REx mission, launched on 8 September 2016;
  • D. Koschny, ESA presented the successful end of Rosetta mission;  
  • M. Yoshikawa, JAXA, presented progress on the Hayabusa2 mission: arrival at asteroid Ryugu is scheduled for June-July 2018, return to Earth in 2020.

5. Overview of the PDC, 15-19 May 2017, Tokyo, Japan

Bill Ailor, IAA, gave an overview of the forthcoming Planetary Defence Conference (PDC), to be held from 15 to 19 May in Tokyo Japan. Topics of the conference include information on NEOs, deflection techniques, impact consequences and disaster management; in addition a Hypothetical Asteroid Impact exercise is to be performed. PDC 2017 will  enable those not attending the conference in person to participate in the conference remotely by submitting questions. This will be the seventh in a series of conferences that began in 2004 in Anaheim, California, with subsequent conferences in Washington, D.C. in 2007, Granada, Spain in 2009, Bucharest Romania in 2011, Flagstaff, Arizona in 2013 and Frascati Italy in 2015. Further information, including a press release and call for papers is available on the PDC website at

6. The following presentations were given:

7. SMPAG Ad hoc Working Group on Legal Issues

Line Drube, DLR, made a short presentation on the current composition of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on legal issues that SMPAG agreed to establish at its 6th meeting in February 2016. In a debate it was stressed that the WG’s membership should be geographically balanced and the Asian countries were invited to nominate their candidates. The Ad Hoc Working Group aims to, amongst other things: formulate and prioritize relevant legal issues and questions requiring clarification in regard to the work of SMPAG; consider the legal questions in the context of existing treaties; and  devise a plan of action to tackle outstanding issues (see Summary Report of the 6th SMPAG meeting).

Objectives of the first meeting will include drafting the Terms of Reference as well as identifying legal and procedural issues. The need to establish a permanent secretariat of this Ad Hoc WG would be addressed at the first meeting.

Rules for membership: SMPAG unanimously agreed on the currently proposed members of the SMPAG Ad hoc WG (see Annex 1). It was agreed that as a general guideline the membership of this Ad hoc WG should be limited to 15 legal experts. Any future members should be approved by SMPAG once nominated by a SMPAG member.  

Line Drube was appointed by SMPAG as a coordinator of this Ad Hoc Working Group. SMPAG nominated 4 technical experts to participate in the work of the WG; ESA - Gerhard Drolshagen; DLR - Alan Harris, IAA - Bill Ailor; NASA (name tbd). Additional technical experts could be asked to participate in the WG, as required. The Ad Hoc WG will report to the SMPAG.


  • The first teleconference is scheduled  for 10 November 2016 at 16.00hrs UTC;
  • The first physical meeting is scheduled to be on the margins of the 54th Scientific and Technical Subcommittee session in Vienna to take place 30 January-10 February 2017.
  • PDC 2017 could be used as an opportunity to present the issues addressed by this Ad Hoc WG.

8. UNOOSA Permanent Secretariat to SMPAG

This function has been formalized through the COPUOS report and the UN GA resolution. Contact: Romana Kofler, SMPAG permanent secretariat (

The funding of the secretariat is being addressed and will be formalized.

9. Change in membership of SMPAG delegations

In case of a change in membership, the head of the respective SMPAG delegation shall inform the SMPAG Chair and the SMPAG Secretariat on the change.

10. Next SMPAG meeting: the next SMPAG meeting is to be held on the margins of the 54th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in Vienna during the 1st week of the session, i.e. from 30 January to 4 February 2017, with possibly IAWN meeting on Tuesday, SMPAG on Wednesday, SMPAG Ad Hoc WG on Legal Matters on Thursday; and IAWN and SMPAG reporting to STSC on Friday. The option of SMPAG to meet in conjunction with the Planetary Defence Conference in May 2017 is to be explored.

11. Status of report on work plan items

Status reports were given on all ongoing work plan items.  

  • 5.1. Criteria and thresholds for impact response actions (NASA) – see Annex II
  • 5.2. Mitigation Mission Types and Technologies to be considered (UKSA)
  • 5.3 Mapping of threat scenarios to mission types (ESA)
  • 5.4. Reference missions for different NEO threat scenarios (ASI)
  • 5.5 A plan for action in case of a credible threat (NASA/IAA)
  • 5.6 Communication guidelines in case of a credible threat (NASA)
  • 5.7 Roadmap for future work on planetary defense (DLR)

A coordination meeting is proposed to jointly address the work plan items 5.2, 5.3. and 5.4.

The leads on work plan items should send the updates and progress reports to the SMPAG Chair and the SMPAG secretariat. The updated workplan and reports will then be shared with SMPAG members for their review and comments. The updated workplan will be reviewed in more detail at the next SMPAG meeting in 2017.

It is emphasized that the reduction of uncertainties in impact probabilities is of high importance for any NEO mitigation measure. The work plan item 5.11 Toolbox for a NEO characterisation payload should be treated with high priority.

12. Revisit of the  items without leader

  • Modify the scope of work plan item 5.8 – Consequences, including failure, of NEO mitigation space missions. IAA to provide an update for a rationale and title under this work plan item to emphasize the importance of the overall campaign design to assure a success of the deflection effort.
  • 5.10 – Study of the nuclear device option - No lead identified yet.

13) Other matters

  • Paul Chodas, JPL/NASA informed SMPAG on the upcoming Asteroid Deflection Technology Workshop, hosted by CNEOS/JPL, to be held at Caltech, 28 February to 2 March 2017, which is intended for astrodynamics and space mission specialists to discuss key technical issues associated with asteroid deflection, also in preparation for PDC 2017. A summary report of this workshop will be presented at the PDC 2017.  
  • Two modifications are made to the Work Plan: 1) the requirement of semi-annual reports has been removed; 2) a statement is added that work plan item leaders could be replaced if no status reports of progress is provided during two consecutive SMPAG meetings.


Composition of the SMPAG Ad Hoc Working Group on Legal Issues as of 14 October 2016

Coordinator: Line Drube, DLR






Space Lawyer

Peter Stubbe

ESA-Affairs, DLR


Space Lawyer

Jean-François Mayence

Legal Unit "International Relations", BELSPO


Space Lawyer

Nicholas Fernandes

Department for Business Innovation & Skills, UK Government

Austrian National Point of Contact for Space Law of the European Centre for Space Law

Professor of International Law

Irmgard Marboe

Department of European Law, International Law and Comparative Law,

University of Vienna


Austrian National Point of Contact for Space Law of the European Centre for Space Law

Space Law Research Assistant

Cordula Steinkogler

Department of European Law, International Law and Comparative Law,

University of Vienna


Professor of Space Law

Frans G. von der Dunk

College of Law, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Space Lawyer

Sergio Marchisio

Professor of Aerospace Law at the University “La Sapienza”,

member of the ASI Boards of Directors.


Space Law Experts

Alexander Soucek

ESA Program Coordinator for Earth Observation


Space Law Experts

Michael “Mick” Schlabs

International Law Practice Group, Office Of The General Counsel, HQ Nasa


Professor of Space Law and telecommunications

Rosa Ma. Ramírez de Arellano y Haro

Deputy Director for International Affairs and Space Security, Mexican Space Agency
















ANNEX II: Recommended criteria and thresholds for impact response actions

After data collected and analyzed has been adequately verified and validated, given the circumstances of the actual, real-world scenario:

1) IAWN shall warn of predicted impacts exceeding a probability of 1% for all objects characterized to be greater than 10 meters in size, or roughly equivalent to absolute magnitude of 28 if only brightness data can be collected.

2) Terrestrial preparedness planning should begin when warned of a possible impact:

-  Predicted to be within 20 years,

-  Probability of impact is assessed to be greater than 10%, and

-  Object is characterized to be greater than 20 meters in size, or roughly equivalent to absolute magnitude of 27 if only brightness data can be collected.

3)  SMPAG should start mission option(s) planning when warned of a possible impact:

-  Predicted to be within 50 years,

-  Probability is assessed to be greater than 1%, and

-  Object is characterized to be greater than 50 meters in size, or roughly equivalent to absolute magnitude of 26 if only brightness data can be collected.