8 & 9 February 2023

Hybrid (MS Teams and M5, Vienna International Centre)

The 20th meeting of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place on 8 and 9 February 2023. 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, UKSA. Observers for COSPAR, ESO, IAU 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 Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Indian Space Agency (ISRO) and Kenyan Space Agency (KSA).

DAY 1, 8 February

  1. SMPAG Status and General Items

SMPAG Chair, Detlef Koschny, presented the status of SMPAG members (18) and observers (7), including expressed interest by Canadian, Indian and Kenyan space agencies that joined the 20th meeting as observers. The status is available at

The presentation on the SMPAG status is available here

  1. Report by IAWN

IAWN Coordinator, Kelly Fast, NASA PDCO, reported on the status of IAWN since last SMPAG meeting. There are currently 50 signatories to the IAWN Statement of Intent representing independent astronomers, observatories, and space institutions from over 20 countries. She informed SMPAG that in late 2022, IAWN conducted a coordinated campaign to observe a well known near-Earth asteroid, 2005 LW3, as a second evaluation of the technical capabilities of the worldwide observing network, with a record 82 observatory stations participating. She also informed SMPAG that telescopes on every continent and in space observed the ejecta plume generated by the Double Asteroid Redirect Test, (DART) spacecraft as it impacted the moon of asteroid Didymos on 26 September 2022. The worldwide astronomical community continued to observe the Didymos system in the weeks that followed; some observatories of IAWN signatories participated in conducting the critical measurements to show that the world’s first attempt to change the motion of a body in space was successful; their role was key in confirming the kinetic impactor as a tested, viable option for asteroid threat mitigation. The presentation is available here.

  1. 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. 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, reported on the outcome of the first phase of the campaign (Sprint 1) that completed in 2022 and focused on the national organisation and coordination and on determining the lists of tasks to be performed in response to a real threat scenario. The report of Sprint 1 will be made available on by 31 March.

The second phase (Sprint 2) kicked-off during this SMPAG meeting and will concentrate on SMPAG members identifying their capabilities for the necessary tasks 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) 2023 IAA Planetary Defense Conference (PDC) 3-7 April with 2 April public event on DART

The 2023 IAA PDC will be held in Vienna, Austria at the Vienna International Centre and the Austrian Academy of Sciences from 2 April (public event on DART) to 7 April 2023 as an in-person conference with a virtual component. It will also be webcast. More information on the PDC 2023 and registration is available at:

As part of the conference, a hypothetical asteroid impact scenario will be discussed, and is made available at: Paul Chodas presented key parameters of the scenario and SMPAG members discussed possible mission options. The SMPAG Chair will present a coordinated advise on possible mission options in response to the scenario on Day 1 of the 2023 IAA PDC, on 3 April.

Action: The SMPAG input to PDC presentation will be shared with SMPAG members ahead of the meeting for comments.

5) Workplan items:

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 given.

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, update is expected at the next meeting

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): In-progress. 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 was given and comments are welcomed before the next version is published on in April 2023.

Action: SMPAG members are invited to provide comments on Version 4 of the Roadmap to be shared with SMPAG All.

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

Update is expected at the next meeting.

5.9. Criteria for deflection targeting (ROSA): Update was given.

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 updated version of the template with additional criteria will be shared for inputs. Action: Updated table of existing instruments with additional criteria to be shared with SMPAG All.


DAY 2, 9 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 DART and other US missions (NASA) 

-- Update on Hera and other ESA missions (ESA)

-- Update on Japanese missions (JAXA)

-- Update on French activities for PD (CNES)

-- NEA-related activities in Italy: LICIACube contribution to DART (ASI)

-- NEA-related activities in Germany (DLR): oral presentation

-- Another ‘MIAPbP’ workshop in Munich: A proposal had been submitted for 2024, but was rejected. A new proposal will be submitted for 2026.

Updates on Apophis-related missions (All)

-- ESA: See the general presentation above
-- CNES: See the general presentation above
-- Mission concept study - 
FLARE (NASA, Johnson)
-- Mission concept study - 
RA (NASA, Johnson)
-- Mission concept study - 
DROID (NASA, Johnson)

Observer space agencies presentations:

-- CSA (Canadian Space Agency) presented their NEA-related activities

-- ISRO (Indian Space Agency) informed SMPAG that at present national efforts have been initiated to build capacity in planetary defence and in NEA observations (a dedicated telescope for NEOs is being planned)

-- KSA (Kenyan Space Agency) informed SMPAG that capacity-building efforts in this area at the national level are being welcomed, including in observations and information-sharing

7) SMPAG Legal Working Group

Coordinator for the SMPAG Legal WG, Alissa Hadaji, informed SMPAG that the WG Legal held an intersessional meeting prior to the 20th SMPAG meeting to discuss the way forward, primarily: broadening the scope of membership, taking into account geographical balance; considering new task for its work; and revising its ToRs (of October 2017).  A phased-out approach has been proposed: a proposal on new tasks to WG Legal will be considered intersessionally by SMPAG All and a decision taken at the 21st SMPAG meeting in October 2023.

Action: SMPAG Legal WG Coordinator to draft a task proposal and share with SMPAG Chair/Secretariat ahead of an intersessional meeting.

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

Planetary Defence (name tbd)

  • D. Daou and R. Kofler presented an update about preparations for an international year of planetary defence
  • An outline proposal about main goals for the international year and its implementation has been prepared by a small working group, comprising members from IAWN, SMPAG, IAU, NASA PDCO and UNOOSA. Members so far include Doris Daou, Romana Kofler, William Ailor, Rudi Albrecht, Sergio Camacho, Christian Köberl, Patrick Michel, Gonzalo Tancredi.
  • 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 (COPUOS) for its consideration. ESO representative outlined several steps on how to proceed with the process of engaging national focal points for COPUOS to generate support.
  • Next steps: A dedicated panel on this initiative will be held during the 2023 IAA PDC, 3-7 April 2023.

9) Next SMPAG meeting:

The 21st SMPAG meeting is proposed to take place on 9 and 10 October in the United States (venue TBD), and will be preceded by the IAWN Steering Committee meeting on 7 October.


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