10 & 11 October 2023

MS Teams Virtual meeting

The 21st meeting of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place on 10 and 11 October 2023, in a format of two half-day virtual meetings. The meeting was chaired by the European Space Agency (ESA), the current SMPAG Chair (2023-2025) 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, Czechia, DLR, ESA, FFG, ISA, JAXA, KASI, NASA. Observers for ASE, COSPAR, ESO and 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 observer for ISRO and by the observer for EAS (European Astronomical Society).


DAY 1, 10 October

  1. SMPAG Status and General Items, Membership

SMPAG Chair, Detlef Koschny, presented the status of SMPAG members (18) and observers (7). The status is available at

The presentation on the SMPAG status is available here.

ISRO expressed intention to join SMPAG as member, following the completion of internal procedures, and EAS is intending to join SMPAG as observer.

  1. Report by IAWN

IAWN Coordinator, Kelly Fast, NASA PDCO, reported on the status of IAWN since last SMPAG meeting. There are currently 53 signatories to the IAWN Statement of Intent from over 25 countries. 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 informed SMPAG about an IAWN rapid response characterization campaign on asteroid 2023 DZ2. The exercise tested the capability of the planetary defence community to collect observations and physically characterize the object on very short notice. The team determined that 2023 DZ2 is a 30-meter (±10) E-type asteroid with a rotation period of 6.3 min, with associated hazard modelling, the asteroid nearly met the IAWN notification threshold, i.e., IAWN shall warn of predicted impacts exceeding a probability of 1% for all objects characterized to be greater than 10 meters in size. IAWN was commended for its international efforts and rapid evaluation that showcased its operational capability for planetary defence. The presentation on the IAWN Status is available here.

SMPAG Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Exercise (ASI)

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

The SMPAG Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Exercise lead, 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. Sprint 1 included the collection of inputs through online forms. The Sprint 1 report has been prepared and shared with participating delegations for final review.

Next steps:

  1. Provide comments to the final report of Sprint 1 by 31 October 2023.
  2. SMPAG agreed that until the 22nd SMPAG meeting, to be held on 31 January 2024 in Vienna, ASI would lead Sprint 2 MS Teams meetings every 3rd Thursday in the month at 14.00 CEST/CET (12.00/13.00 UTC) for 1.5 hours in duration. The dates are 19 October, 16 November, 21 December 2023, and 18 January 2024, the recurring MS Teams meeting link has been shared by ASI.
  3. SMPAG agreed that the heads of SMPAG delegations and nominated focal points and invitees will receive these invitations, including those who have contributed to the reports. Observers may be invited by the heads of delegations. The SMPAG WG Legal Coordinator will also be invited to these meetings.
  4. SMPAG agreed that the report for Sprint 2 should be reviewed by the SMPAG Legal Working Group for legal implications before it gets published.

 The Sprint 2 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 Sprint 3 will deal with communication and coordination issues within SMPAG. Updated information on Sprint 1 and Sprint 2 is available here.

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 1.0 (Oct 2018) (note that this is still v.1., not v.2, as previously recorded in minutes). 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):  Currently, focus is on the SMPAG exercise. ASI is also looking at reference missions on the case of the 2023 PDC hypothetical impact exercise with the aim to possibly automatize the procedures and calculations. 

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

Action: ESA will check on availability of Shared Drive for this item (similarly to IADC Space Debris Exercise) where all information on the exercise can be made available.

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. Update will be done after SMPAG exercise is completed, to take stock of the exercise.

5.7 Produce a roadmap for future work on planetary defence (DLR): This is a living document. The newest version is available as SMPAG-RP-001, v. 4.0, 2 March 2023 SMPAG members are invited to provide comments. Action: SMPAG All

5.8 Consequences, including failure, of NEO mitigation space missions (ESA/FFG): No update.

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. 2023 PDC also provided some information on this. SMPAG WG Legal could take up this task further. Action: SMPAG Legal WG.

5.11 Toolbox for a characterisation payload (CNES):  the table of existing instruments is shared with SMPAG All for inputs. Next step: Continue to update the instrument table.

5) AOB

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

  • The 8th IAA Planetary Defense Conference was held in Vienna, Austria from 3 to 7 April 2023, at the Vienna International Centre (3-6 April) and at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
  • Further information and webcast of the conference is available at
  • The 2025 IAA PDC is tentatively planned for 4-9 May 2025 in South Africa.


DAY 2, 11 October

6)  Update on Apophis-related missions (All)

  • ESA (here), NASA (here) and CNES (here) shared information on planned Apophis-related missions.
  • See also Apophis-Specific Action Team Report: This report about Asteroid (99942) Apophis’s Earth close approach on 13 April, 2029 was generated by a Specific Action Team (SAT) formed by the Small Body Assessment Group (SBAG) at the request of NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD).
  • Discussion evolved around the type of criteria/properties to select asteroids relevant for planetary defence, should there be further filtering based on physical and taxonomical properties of asteroids, also in connection of whether there are any criteria/properties for selection of asteroids as a back-up option to Apophis. Among them, these criteria were put forward: accessibility of NEAs (see, mass, trajectory and size, as well as future orbit evolution.

Action: Ian Carnelli, ESA to share a table with asteroid properties as a base for further discussions on asteroids relevant for PD at the next meetings.

7) Updates on on-going and planed missions relevant for planetary defence: SMPAG exchanged information on the on-going and planned activities of its members:

  • Updates were provided by the following space agencies: ESA, NASA, JAXA, DLR, CNES, ISRO (as observer).

Presentations are available at, Documents and presentation, 10 and 11 October 2023.

8) UNOOSA Director, Aarti Holla-Maini address to SMPAG: The new UNOOSA Director made introductory remarks to SMPAG, after assuming the position of UNOOSA Director as of 18 September 2023. Aarti Holla-Maini brings over 25 years of experience in the space and satellite sector, working predominantly with international organizations and regulators. Prior to the United Nations, she held the post of Secretary-General of the Global Satellite Operators Association. She commended SMPAG and IAWN for international efforts in strengthening preparedness in case of an asteroid impact hazard, given that such a natural hazard could potentially have global consequences and international collaboration is of key importance. She also linked this work to one of the key challenges of the 21st century – building resilient societies and protecting planet Earth and its inhabitants. Aarti also introduced her Deputy, Senior Adviser, Mr. Driss El Hadani, who also joined UNOOSA in September 2023 and brings mora than 30 years of experience in the field of remote sensing and space technology applications and development.

9) SMPAG Legal Working Group updates:

Coordinator for the SMPAG Legal WG, Alissa Haddaji, informed SMPAG about the activities of the SMPAG Legal WG during summer, and provided a comprehensive report with proposals for:

  • Updates on SMPAG Legal WG Terms of Reference
  • A call/letter to be sent by SMPAG Chair to SMPAG All, for nominations of members to Legal SMPAG WG by 15 November (max 2 per delegation)
  • Proposed workplan for the SMPAG Legal WG

Action: SMPAG agreed that SMPAG Chair will send a letter with a call for nominations to SMPAG Legal WG. The nominations should be sent to SMPAG Chair, cc secretariat, and SMPAG Legal WG coordinator Alissa Haddaji ( by 15 November 2023.

SMPAG also welcomed the proposed changes to the SMPAG Legal WG ToR (dated 11 October 2017) and agreed that any further comments to the amended ToR and to the workplan proposal should be communicated to the SMPAG Legal WG Coordinator, Alissa Haddaji (email:, cc SMPAG Chair and secretariat.

The information on proposed changes to ToR and workplan of the SMPAG WG Legal are available here. SMPAG also proposed an additional question for SMPAG WG Legal to address: the Artemis Accords and its implications for SMPAG work.

Action: SMPAG Chair, SMPAG Legal WG Coordinator

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

Planetary Defence 2029 (name tbd)

  • A one-pager with key messages about IYPD 2029 proposal was shared with SMPAG, prepared by members of a small working group, comprising members from IAWN, SMPAG, IAU, NASA PDCO, UNOOSA.
  • Members include Doris Daou, Romana Kofler, William Ailor, Rudi Albrecht, Sergio Camacho, Kelly Fast, Christian Köberl, Detlef Koschny, Patrick Michel, Gonzalo Tancredi, Andrew Williams.
  • ESA is planning to host a reception during the 61st session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, to be held from 29 Jan to 9 Feb 2024, to sensitise national delegations about this proposal and gather support of delegations for this proposal.
  • A conference room paper containing the IYPD proposal could be submitted during the STSC session under the agenda item on near-Earth objects, by sponsoring countries and permanent observers to COPUOS.
  • A proposal was made to also consider a close flyby of a roughly kilometre-sized object in summer 2028 as a build-up to 2029 IYPD, and to include that information in the proposal that will be before STSC in 2024.

10) Next SMPAG meetings

The 22nd SMPAG meeting is proposed to take place during the first week of the session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (29 Jan to 9 Feb 2024), at the Vienna International Centre, on Wednesday, 31 January 2024 (full day), and if needed, on Thursday, 1 Feb. 2024, half day, as an in-person meeting, with hybrid component. IAWN intends to meet a day before.  STSC session with NEO agenda item will also be webcast on the

It is proposed for the 23rd SMPAG meeting to take place during the 2024 IAC, that will take place 14 to 18 October in Milano, Italy, as 2-half day in-person meeting, possibly on Thursday and Friday, 17-18 October 2024.


* *** *