19 & 20 October 2022

MS Teams Virtual meeting


The 19th meeting of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place on 19 and 20 October 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, CNES, CNSA, DLR, ESA, FFG, ISA, JAXA, KASI, NASA, ROSA. Observers for COSPAR, SWF, and the representative of IAWN, ex officio member, participated at the meeting. Representatives from the SMPAG Legal Working Group also attended the meeting. The meeting was also attended by observers for ISRO.


DAY 1, 19 October

1) SMPAG Status and General Items

SMPAG Chair, Detlef Koschny, presented the status of SMPAG members (18) and observers (7). The status is available at The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) submitted a letter to become SMPAG member in 2021, presentation of their activities, to be followed by SMPAG decision, is still pending.

The presentation on the SMPAG status is available here.

The SMPAG Chair reminded the Group that, as per SMPAG Terms of Reference, ESA’s two-year chairmanship of SMPAG runs through 2022, therefore SMPAG will have to decide on its Chair for the period 2023-2025. He further informed SMPAG that ESA indicated readiness to chair the SMPAG for the next two years, and that to date, no other SMPAG Member indicated interest to chair the Group. The SMPAG Chair invited Members to further consider this matter, prior to a voting decision on SMPAG Chairmanship for the period 2023-2025 to take place on Day 2 of the SMPAG meeting.

2) Report by IAWN

IAWN Coordinator, Kelly Fast, NASA PDCO, reported on the status of IAWN since last SMPAG meeting. There are currently 40 signatories to the IAWN Statement of Intent from over 20 countries. She informed SMPAG about highlights from the 15th IAWN Steering Committee meeting that took place on 17 and 18 October 2022 and that the draft Terms of Reference for IAWN Steering Committee membership guided by the IAWN Statement of Intent was adopted during their executive session on 18 October; nominations will soon be solicited from the IAWN signatory community for consideration. The presentation is available here. Further information on how to join IAWN and about the IAWN’s past and on-going observation campaigns is available at the IAWN website at The IAWN Coordinator also informed SMPAG that the announcements for the upcoming IAWN Observing Campaign – the 2005 LW3 Timing Campaign, are expected in November 2022. 

3) SMPAG Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Exercise (ASI)

In 2021, SMPAG initiated its first hypothetical impact threat exercise, under the lead of ASI and Politecnico of Milano, members of SMPAG, in collaboration with ESA, to test the Group’s real-world capabilities to support planetary defence in case of a real threat.

Camilla Colombo, ASI, reported on the outcome of Sprint 1 of the campaign that focused on the national organisation and coordination and on defining the lists of tasks to be performed in response to a real threat scenario. Currently, ASI, ESA, CNES, CNSA, DLR, FFG, ISA, JAXA, KARI, NASA, ROSA, SUPARCO, UKSA are participating. Sprint 1 included the collection of inputs through online forms. A structure for the report has also been prepared.

Next steps: finalize the report of Sprint 1. A dedicated email with information will be send to all SMPAG Members. Action: ASI and SMPAG Secretariat.

The second sprint will focus on how the coordination is done among different SMPAG delegations and harmonisation of the national (SMPAG-related) efforts into a SMPAG-coordinated action. The third sprint will deal with communication and coordination issues within SMPAG. Further information about the exercise is available at, Documents and Presentations.

4) Workplan 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): no update.

5.3 Mapping of threat scenarios to mission types (ESA):  in progress (a dedicated person for this task is expected to be on-board soon to take up the task)

5.4 Reference missions for different NEO threat scenarios (ASI):  focus is on SMPAG exercise.

5.5 A plan for action in case of a credible threat (NASA/ESA):  status is unchanged. Update will be done after SMPAG exercise is completed, to take stock of the exercise.

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. Action on this is by the IAWN Steering Committee.

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). Update expected for February 2023, to take into account DART mission. SMPAG members are invited to provide comments. (Action: SMPAG All)

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

5.9. Criteria for deflection targeting (ROSA): no update.

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. SMPAG WG Legal could take up this task. Action: SMPAG Legal WG.

5.11 Toolbox for a characterisation payload (CNES): an update was presented by CNES, the review and table of existing instruments has been shared. Next step: continue to update the instrument table.

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 will be re-visited following completion of the exercise.

5) AOB

2023 IAA PDC, 3-7 April, Vienna, Austria

  • The 8th IAA Planetary Defense Conference will be held in Vienna, Austria from 3 to 7 April 2023, it will be held at the Vienna International Centre (3-6 April) and at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (2 April half-day kick off public and media event on DART and 7 April half-day closing). Call for papers and other information is available at
  • The registration will be opened in the coming month and close in March.
  • Paul Chodas of JPL presented the hypothetical impact threat scenario for the 2023 IAA PDC that will become available on CNEOS website shortly. SMPAG will discuss it in more detail at its 20th meeting in February 2023 to provide recommendations to the scenario for the 2023 IAA PDC, day 1 programme.


DAY 2, 20 October

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 DART (NASA):

In presence of Bhavya Lal, Associate Administrator for Technology, Policy, and Strategy and NASA PDCO team, an update was given on the successful DART mission – the first ever technology demonstration of kinetic impactor for planetary defence that occurred on 26 September 2022, and its follow-up observations. The mission successfully changed the orbital period of the system by 32 minutes. The momentum enhancement factor is still being estimated.

-- Update on Hera mission (ESA): Reconnaissance mission to Didymos and Dimorphos, planned for launch in October 2024, following and complementing NASA’s DART impactor; with participation of 17 countries.

-- Update on NEO-related missions in Japan, i.e. Hayabusa, Hayabusa2, Hayabusa2  extended mission, DESTINY+; participation in ESA's Hera mission (JAXA)

-- Update on other US planetary defense missions of interest, i.e., OSIRIS-REx, OSIRIS

APEX, Lucy, Psyche, Janus, NEO Scout (NASA)

-- Update on NEO-related activities in Germany (DLR), i.e. Hera, NEO-MAPP: EU-funded project (Feb. 2020 – Jan. 2023) with work packages in support of Hera science; Impact Effects Engineering Tool (ESA contract (Deimos, MfN); and Destiny+ (JAXA/DLR mission to 3200 Phaethon)

-- Information on upcoming ‘MIAPP’ workshop in Munich, May-Jun 2024 (ESA): The Chair informed SMPAG that a 4-week workshop on topics related to asteroids has been proposed for May-June 2024. A decision on whether it will be supported is expected until the end of the year.

-- Update on Apophis-related missions (All)

--  Apophis Reconnaissance mission (ESA)

-- Several mission concepts have been studied by ESA, NASA, CNES since 2004. The 2019 IAA PDC resolution acknowledged that the occurrence of such a large asteroid flyby is a natural event that happens only once per thousand years. It would provide a unique opportunity for improving our knowledge of small bodies, both for science and Planetary Defence.  

-- Workshops have been held for an international mission to Apophis, incl. Apophis-T7 Years: Knowledge Opportunities for the Science of Planetary Defence.

-- NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group, in its report from 2019, encourages NASA and the small bodies community to determine the science and planetary defence goals for the 2029 flyby of Apophis; and in its latest report strongly advocates pre-close approach mission to Apophis to complete the understanding of geological processes of Apophis during its close encounter with Earth.

Presentations are available at, Documents and presentation, 19 and 20 October 2022.

7) SMPAG Legal Working Group

Coordinator for the SMPAG Legal WG, Alissa Hadaji, informed SMPAG that some funding has become available for continuation of coordination activities for the SMPAG Legal WG, hence the Working Group is expected to resume its work in the coming month. Objectives are to update and broaden its membership, taking into account better geographical representation and to start working on a tasking statement for the upcoming work. SMPAG Legal coordinator will prepare an email proposal, outlining the current membership and next steps that will be shared with SMPAG All through SMPAG Secretariat.

Action: SMPAG Legal WG Coordinator and SMPAG Secretariat.

8) 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 in 2029.
  • 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, Patrick Michel, Gonzalo Tancredi. The working group is preparing a work document outlining the main goals for the international year and its implementation.
  • The efforts so far have been to present the proposal at various scientific conferences and engage support by organizations, such as IAU, ESO, Europlanet, and their networks. The proposal will have to be sponsored by States in order for the initiative to develop into an UN-designated international year proposal that would be presented to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for its consideration.
  • Next steps: the working group will prepare a fact sheet outlining the main goals and vision for this international year, and share it with IAWN and SMPAG, for their members to possibly engage their national representatives to COPUOS and galvanize support.
  • A dedicated panel on this initiative will be held during the 2023 IAA PDC, 3-7 April 2023

Action: working group on international year.

9) SMPAG Chair 2023 - 2025

The SMPAG Chair informed the Group that no delegation has made a proposal for a new SMPAG Chair. The SMPAG members expressed appreciation and support to ESA in its capacity of the Chair of SMPAG and proposed ESA to be re-elected for the 2023-2025 term. The SMPAG unanimously elected ESA as the recurrent Chair for the period 2023-2025.

10) Next SMPAG meeting:

The 20th SMPAG meeting is proposed to take place during the first week of the session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (6-17 February 2023), at the Vienna International Centre, on 8 and 9 February 2023, as an in-person meeting with a hybrid component. IAWN intends to meet on 7 February 2023.

It is proposed for the 20th SMPAG meeting to focus on 1) SMPAG hypothetical impact threat exercise – final sprint 1 report and first results of sprint 2; 2) Considerations and SMPAG recommendations for the 2023 IAA PDC hypothetical impact threat scenario and 3) Apophis missions; as well as any other exchange of information/updates on PD-related missions by SMPAG members. The SMPAG Legal WG also plans to resume its work during the February meetings.

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