The Origin and Evolution of the Asteroid Main Belt

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Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2006

image Astrophysics, abstract

From: Anja C. Andersen [view email]
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 23:04:06 GMT   (396kb)
The Origin and Evolution of the Asteroid Main Belt
Authors: Philip R. Bidstrup, Henning Haack (Copenhagen Geological Museum), Anja C. Andersen (Dark Cosmology Center), Rene Michelsen, John Leif Jorgensen (Danish Technical University)
Comments: Conference proceedings for the 6th IAA International Conference on "Low-Cost Planetary Missions" held October 11-13, 2005 in Kyoto, Japan
Report-no: NORDITA-2005-74
Using a fully autonomous spacecraft - Bering - we propose to detect and study sub-km asteroids from an orbit within the asteroid Main Belt. The main purpose of the proposed Bering mission is to detect a statistically significant sample of an expected population of approximately 10^(10) main belt asteroids in the size range 1 m to 1 km. These asteroids are too faint to be observed using Earth-based telescopes. Sub-km asteroids can be detected from spacecraft at close range but due to the high relative velocities and the long communication times this requires a fully autonomous spacecraft. Using theoretical estimates of the distribution and abundance of sub-km asteroids we find that the Bering mission would detect approximately 6 new sub-km asteroids per day. With an expected lifetime for the mission of a few years we expect to detect and study several thousand sub-km asteroids. Results from the Bering mission would allow us to: 1) Provide further links between groups of meteorites and their parent asteroids. 2) Constrain the cratering rate at planetary surfaces and thus allow significantly improved cratering ages for terrains on Mars and other planets. 3) Constrain processes that transfer small asteroids from orbits in the main belt to the inner Solar System.
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