9 & 10 February 2022

MS Teams Virtual meeting


The 18th meeting of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place on 9 and 10 February 2022, in a format of two half-day virtual meetings. The meeting was chaired by the European Space Agency (ESA), the current SMPAG Chair (2020-2022) and supported by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) as the Secretariat. 

Adoption of the agenda and introduction of participants.

The agenda was adopted. The following agencies and institutions were represented at the meeting (AEM, ASI, CNSA, CNES, DLR, ESA, FFG, ISA, JAXA, KASI, NASA, ROSA, UKSA). Observers for ASE, COSPAR, ESO, IAA, IAU and UNOOSA, and the representatives of IAWN, ex officio member participated at the meeting. Representatives from the SMPAG Legal Working Group as well as a representative of the Secure World Foundation (SWF) also attended the meeting.

DAY 1, 9 February

1) SMPAG Status and General Items

SMPAG Chair, Detlef Koschny, presented the status of SMPAG members and observers. The status is available at The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) submitted a letter to become SMPAG member, presentation of their activities is expected at the next SMPAG meeting. The Chair also informed that the Secure World Foundation applied for observer status and will present its activities at this meeting.

2) Report by IAWN

IAWN Coordinator, Kelly Fast, NASA PDCO, reported on the status of IAWN since last SMPAG meeting. There are currently 38 signatories to the IAWN Statement of Intent, representing independent astronomers, observatories, and space institutions from Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, Spain, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as international European organisations. She informed that in 2021, IAWN successfully conducted a coordinated campaign to observe near-Earth asteroid 2019 XS, in order to evaluate the quality of the technical capabilities of this worldwide observing network and to identify areas for improvement. The observing campaign was coordinated with the IAU’s Minor Planet Center; with participation of 69 observatories across the globe. Preliminary results indicated largely high-quality data from the worldwide network, the results will be fully analysed and published in a peer-reviewed publication, and posted on the IAWN website at by summer of 2022.

IAWN Coordinator also informed that IAWN at their latest meeting of the Steering Committee held on 8 February, among others, considered  proposal for an international year focusing on near-Earth asteroids and planetary defence activities, and was informed about a new agenda item on Dark and Quiet Skies of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of COPUOS. IAWN is also currently finalizing Draft Terms of Reference for IAWN Steering Committee membership guided by the IAWN Statement of Intent.

3) SMPAG Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Exercise (ASI)

SMPAG in 2021 initiated its first hypothetical impact threat exercise, under the lead of ASI and Politecnico of Milano members of the SMPAG, in collaboration with ESA, to test the Group’s real-world capabilities to support planetary defence in case of a real threat. In particular, the exercise will simulate an inter-agency procedure to organise a coordinated response to an invented, albeit realistic scenario of impact threat. Camilla Colombo, ASI, informed SMPAG that the exercise is currently in Sprint 1, there were two meetings held so far, kick-off meeting on 17 December 2021 and splinter meeting on 7 February 2022, first round of inputs was collected by beginning of February. The exercise will be run in 2022 with delegations and space agencies involved. Currently, ASI, ESA, CNES, CNSA, DLR, FFG, ISA, NASA, ROSA, UKSA are participating.

Discussions included proposals for SMPAG workplan items to be aligned with the outcomes of the exercise and whether an IADC-like structure could be activated for coordination of all identifies tasks required for a coordinated response at the international level. These proposals can be revisited during Sprint 2.  

Next steps:

  • Recording of the splinter meeting to be circulated
  • Report template to be circulated; + ~1.5 month: delegation to fill-in inputs
  • + ~2 month: progress meeting 2: Analysis of inputs
  • Report of splinter 1 finalised

Further information about the exercise is available at, Documents and Presentations, 9-10 February 2022.

4) Work plan items

Under this agenda item, lead agencies of workplan items reported on the status of the progress. Updates were given for the following SMPAG workplan items, presentations on the status of workplan items are available at:

5.1 Criteria and thresholds for impact response actions (NASA): Completed. Final report SMPAG-RP-003, v. 2.0 (Feb 2019). It was noted that the agreed criteria have already been implemented in several documents of member Agencies.

5.2 Mitigation mission types and technologies to be considered (UKSA): update was presented.

5.3 Mapping of threat scenarios to mission types (ESA):  status is unchanged.

5.4 Reference missions for different NEO threat scenarios (ASI):  update was presented.

5.5 A plan for action in case of a credible threat (NASA/ESA):  status is unchanged.

5.6 Communication guidelines in case of a credible threat (NASA): If real preparations for a Planetary Defence mission start, special communication guidelines might be required. As communication is mainly addressed by IAWN this activity could be combined with an IAWN activity on communication.

5.7 Produce a roadmap for future work on planetary defence (DLR): This is a living document (see SMPAG-RP-001, v.2.0, 2017 Oct on the SMPAG webpage). SMPAG members are invited to provide comments to Chapter VI – summary of priority areas (Action: SMPAG All)

5.8 Consequences, including failure, of NEO mitigation space missions (ESA/FFG): status unchanged.

5.9. Criteria for deflection targeting (ROSA): update will be given at the next meeting. 

5.10 Study of the nuclear device option: A compilation of existing literature that addresses issues related to NEO mitigation using a nuclear device is ongoing. SMPAG members are invited to provide additional references (publication references and abstracts/summaries). and a text for an introduction and background information.

5.11 Toolbox for a characterisation payload (CNES): inputs for a database of instruments and capabilities provided by Belspo, DLR, KASI and CNES, further inputs welcomed, a draft report will be prepared based on inputs,

Merging of SMPAG workplan items

The SMPAG Chair reminded SMPAG members about the proposal that was put for discussion at previous SMPAG meetings to merge some of the workplan items and to split the merged items along 1) mitigation missions, and 2) mitigation technologies, including NEO properties.

A proposal to align workplan items with the outcomes of the SMPAG hypothetical impact threat exercise is also to be re-visited following completion of the exercise.

5) AOB

Nikola Schmidt presented a policy paper on planetary defence and governance issues, by the Institute of International Relations, Prague, Centre for governance of emerging technologies entitled  “Building planetary defense governance: a proposal for multigenerational, financially sustainable and scientifically beneficial planetary defense” that is available here.


DAY 2, 10 February

6) Updates on on-going and planed missions relevant for PD: 

SMPAG exchanged information on the following on-going and planned activities of its members:

-- Update on Japanese missions (JAXA)

-- Update on US missions (NASA)

-- Update on Hera mission (ESA)

-- NEO-related activates in Germany (DLR)

-- NEA-related activities in Italy (ASI)

-- Ongoing activities of the NEO-MAPP consortium, funded by the European Commission

Presentations are available at, Documents and presentation, 9 and 10 February 2022.

7) SMPAG Legal Working Group

Coordinator for the SMPAG Legal WG, Alissa Hadaji, presented to SMPAG a proposal for funding of her activities for the SMPAG WG Legal that would be submitted to the IAA. Once the funding has been finalized, the coordination work will resume. SMPAG thanked IAA for the offered support and agreed to the proposal. Discussions on the SMPAG WG tasking statement and broadening the membership of the WG, including SMPAG Chair reaching out to delegations, will resume at the next SMPAG meeting in autumn.

8) Application for observer status by the Secure World Foundation (SWF)

Following a letter sent by SWF to the SMPAG Chair and Secretariat (dated 17 December 2021) and presentation by Christopher Johnson, SWF, about activities of SWF related to planetary defence to the SMPAG, the Group unanimously agreed to welcome SWF as the observer to SMPAG.

9) Proposal for UN-designated International Year of Near-Earth Asteroids and

Planetary Defence (name tbd)

Doris Dauo presented an update about preparations for an international year of planetary defence. A small working group, comprising members from IAWN, SMPAG, IAU, NASA PDCO and UNOOSA has been established to start working on draft proposal for the 2029 international year. Members so far include Doris Dauo, Romana Kofler. William Ailor, Rudi Albrecht, Sergio Camacho, Christian Köberl, Pedro Russo, Patrick Michel, Gonzalo Tancredi. Other volunteers are welcome to join. SMPAG and IAWN will be briefed regularly on the progress of this initiative.

10) Next SMPAG meeting:

The 19th SMPAG meeting is proposed to take place end of September 2022, possibly in the United States, in a hybrid format.


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