SUMMARY OF THE 8th MEETING OF THE SPACE MISSION PLANNING ADVISORY GROUP (SMPAG)

On the margins of the 54th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee

Vienna, 1 February 2017

The 8th meeting of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place on 1 February on the margins of the 54th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee. 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. The following agencies and institutions were represented at the meeting (AEM, ASI, Austrian Space Forum, CNES, CNSA, CSA, DLR, ESA, ESO, JAXA, KASI, NASA, POLSA, ROSA, UKSA, IAA, IAPS-INAF, FFG-Austrian research promotion agency, Politecnico de Milano, UNOOSA, Sultan Qaboos University, University of Vienna, University of Southampton, University of Strathclyde).

  1. Status of SMPAG

The Chair of SMPAG gave an update on the status of SMPAG. At present SMPAG has 16 official members, 4 official observers and an indication by 4 other entities to join SMPAG in the future. The Chair also informed the meeting that the SMPAG Ad Hoc Working Group on Legal Issues was official established in 2016 and will hold its first meeting on 2 February.

  1. News from IAWN

Rob Landis (NASA) gave an overview of the progress achieved during the 4th IAWN meeting that took place on 13 October 2016 ahead of the Division for Planetary Sciences and the European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, the United States. IAWN currently has 8 signatories to its Statement of Intent. IAWN provided an update on the known number and discovery rates of NEOs, as well as the discovery of 2016 HO3, an Earth companion/quasi-moon asteroid.

  1. Update on recent relevant missions and programmes:
  • Lindley Johnson, NASA, gave an update on the OSIRIS-REx mission, ARM gravity tractor, the two new discovery missions, Lucy and Psyche. A status on progress of the DART kinetic impactor demonstration mission was given. Moreover, he informed SMPAG on the activities of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO),  in particular on the National Near-Earth Objects Preparedness Strategy, issued by the White House on 30 December 2016, prepared by the Interagency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-Bound Near-Earth Objects (DAMIEN) of the National Science and Technology Council.
  • Yoshikawa Makoto, JAXA, gave an update on the Hayabusa-2 mission
  • Detlef Koschny, ESA, presented news from ESA’s SSA programme
  • Ian Carnelli, ESA, presented the current status of the AIM mission
  • Line Drube, DLR, presented the NEOTwIST deflection demonstration mission proposal.

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

  • Bill Ailor, IAA, PDC co-chair, gave an overview of the forthcoming Planetary Defense 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 threat exercise is to be performed.
  • Ailor invited all interested persons to participate in the PDC or to contact the PDC organizers for an invitation to participate remotely in the PDC impact threat exercise.
  • He alerted that early-bird registration closes on 14 March 2017.
  • Further information, including a press release is available on the PDC website at http://pdc.iaaweb.org.

6) Overview of the UNOOSA activities

  • Romana Kofler, UNOOSA, gave an overview of the NEO-related decisions,  endorsed by the UN General Assembly in its  resolution 71/90 of 2016, including 30 June declared by the UN General Assembly as the International Asteroid Day and UNOOSA to serve as the permanent secretariat to SMPAG. As agreed by the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, IAWN and SMPAG are regularly invited to the sessions of the Subcommittee and their chairmen report on the progress of IAWN and SMPAG work annually. She also informed SMPAG members on the focus of work of the Committee and its Subcommittees on the seven UNISPACE+50 thematic priorities and close relation of the SMPAG/IAWN work to the thematic priority 6 on resilient societies.

7) Status of report on work plan items

Status reports were given on all on-going work plan items.

5.1 Criteria and thresholds for impact response actions (NASA)

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)

5.9 Criteria for deflection targeting (ROSA)

5.11 Toolbox for a characterisation payload (CNES)

Considerable progress was achieved on the work plan items 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7 and 5.9. Task leaders will update the respective status information in the work plan and share with the SMPAG secretariat and the Chair.

7.1 Specific issues related to work plan items

  • Task 5.1.

The following criteria and thresholds were agreed upon. Additional information on assumptions and uncertainties should be provided in the report by NASA. All three proposed criteria were accepted and should be included in the report under 5.1.

  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.
  1. 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.

 

  • For task 5.5. suggestions should be provided to the task leader – NASA.
  • The report delivered by DLR under task 5.7. was accepted and will be made publicly available on the SMPAG website. The initial report submitted by CNES under task 5.11  will  also be made publicly available on the SMPAG website.
  • Leadership for the two outstanding tasks that have not yet been assigned the leader, namely 5.8 (Consequences, including failure, of NEO mitigation space missions)and 5.10 (Study of nuclear device option) is still to be determined.
  • A splinter meeting was held on the tasks 5.2., 5.3., and 5.4.

The leads on on-going work plan items should send the updates and progress reports to the SMPAG Chair and the SMPAG secretariat. The updated work plan will be put on the SMPAG website. The updated work plan will be reviewed in more detail at the next SMPAG meeting in 2017.

8) SMPAG Ad-Hoc Working Group on Legal Issues

Line Drube, DLR, made a presentation on the planned activities to be undertaken by the SMPAG Ad Hoc Working Group on legal issues, which SMPAG agreed to establish at its 6th meeting in February 2016. The SMPAG Chair gave an overview of the procedure used to establish the Ad Hoc Working Group.

Objectives of the first meeting of the SMPAG Ad Hoc Working Group on legal issues include drafting the Terms of Reference as well as identifying and agreeing on the scope of questions and plan of work.

It was suggested that the SMPAG Ad Hoc Working Group should study the SMPAG Work plan and address the possible legal questions stemming from it.  Regarding the output of the Ad Hoc SMPAG Working Group, it was proposed that the Working Group produces, as a first step,  a white paper, also capturing the existing gaps that exist in this area.

Regarding the questions examined by the Ad Hoc Working Group, it was suggested that the issues pertaining to the use of the nuclear option for deflection or disruption, should only be addressed as a second step, in order to allow the Ad Hoc Working Group to proceed with its work on other issues constructively. It was agreed that the Ad Hoc Working Group should undertake a pragmatic approach, starting with an initial scope of questions to be addressed, which will initially be expanded, depending on future issues.

10) Next SMPAG meeting

A proposal was made to take into account budget limitations and plan for a dedicated 3-day meeting, including technical experts to be able to discuss work plan issues in-depth, or combine the meeting with major conferences, such as PDC, IAC. After some discussion, it was agreed that the next meeting will take place from 10-12 October 2017, possibly on the East Coast, United States or in Europe.

11) Other matters

  • SMPAG was informed that IAWN and SMPAG Chair will present a joint technical presentation to the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee on the progress and agreed criteria and thresholds in more detail, in addition to the statements in the plenary
  • A technical presentation on PDC and the hypothetical asteroid threat exercise will also be given to the Subcommittee.