Dynamics of tethered asteroid systems to support planetary defense


Every year near-Earth object (NEO) surveys discover hundreds of new asteroids, including the potentially hazardous asteroids (PHA). The possibility of impact with the Earth is one of the main motivations to track and study these objects. This paper presents a tether assisted methodology to deflect a PHA by connecting a smaller asteroid, altering the center of mass of the system, and consequently, moving the PHA to a safer orbit. Some of the advantages of this method are that it does not result in fragmentation, which could lead to another problem, and also the flexibility to change the configuration of the system to optimize the deflection according to the warning time. The dynamics of the PHA-tether-asteroid system is analyzed, and the amount of orbit change is determined for several initial conditions. Only motion in the plane of the orbit of the PHA around the Sun is considered, thus the PHA chosen for the simulations has low orbit inclination. Analysis of the dynamics of the system shows that the method is feasible for planetary defense.


  1. 1.

    T.J. Ahrens, A.W. Harris, Nature 360, 429 (1992).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    E. Asphaug, S.J. Ostro, R.S. Hudson, D.J. Scheeres, W. Benz, Nature 393, 437 (1998).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Y. Yu, P. Michel, S.R. Schwartz, S.P. Naidu, L.A. Benner, Icarus 282, 313 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    H.J. Melosh, Nature 366, 21 (1993).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Y. Ketema, Acta Astron. 136, 64 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    E.T. Lu, S.G. Love, Nature 438, 177 (2005).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    R.W. Farquhar, D.W. Dunham, J.V. McAdams, J. Astron. Sci. 43, 353 (1995).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    A. Fujiwara, J. Kawaguchi, D.K. Yeomans, M. Abe, T. Mukai, T. Okada, J. Saito, H. Yano, M. Yoshikawa, D.J. Scheeres, O. Barnouin-Jha, Science 312, 1330 (2006).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    C.T. Russell, F. Capaccioni, A. Coradini, M.C. De Sanctis, W.C. Feldman, R. Jaumann, H.U. Keller, T.B. McCord, L.A. McFadden, S. Mottola, C.M. Pieters, Earth Moon Planets 101, 65 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    J.I. Kawaguchi, A. Fujiwara, T. Uesugi, Acta Astron. 62, 639 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    D.E. Brownlee, P. Tsou, J.D. Anderson, M.S. Hanner, R.L. Newburn, Z. Sekanina, B.C. Clark, F. Hörz, M.E. Zolensky, J. Kissel, J.A.M. McDonnell, S.A. Sandford, A.J. Tuzzolino, J. Geophys. Res.: Planets (1991–2012) 108, 8111 (2003).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    K.H. Glassmeier, H. Boehnhardt, D. Koschny, E. Kührt, I. Richter, Space Sci. Rev. 128, 1 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    K. Berry, B. Sutter, A. May, K. Williams, B.W. Barbee, M. Beckman, B. Williams, OSIRIS-REx Touch-And-Go (TAG) Mission Design and Analysis (AAS Publications Office, San Diego, CA, 2013).

  14. 14.

    S.R. Chesley, D. Farnocchia, M.C. Nolan, D. Vokrouhlickỳ, P.W. Chodas, A. Milani, F. Spoto, B. Rozitis, L.A. Benner, W.F. Bottke, M.W. Busch, Icarus 235, 5 (2014).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    M.G. Daly, O.S. Barnouin, C. Dickinson, J. Seabrook, C.L. Johnson, G. Cunningham, T. Haltigin, D. Gaudreau, C. Brunet, I. Aslam, A. Taylor, Space Sci. Rev. 212, 899 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    D.S. Lauretta, S.S. Balram-Knutson, E. Beshore, W.V. Boynton, C.D. d’Aubigny, D.N. DellaGiustina, H.L. Enos, D.R. Golish, C.W. Hergenrother, E.S. Howell, C.A. Bennett, Space Sci. Rev. 212, 925 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    D. Stanbridge, K. Williams, B. Williams, C. Jackman, H. Weaver, K. Berry, B. Sutter, J. Englander, Lucy: Navigating A Jupiter Trojan Tour (AAS Publications Office, Stevenson, WA, 2017).

  18. 18.

    W. Hart, G.M. Brown, S.M. Collins, M.D.S.S. Pich, P. Fieseler, D. Goebel, D. Marsh, D.Y. Oh, S. Snyder, N. Warner, G. Whiffen, Overview of the spacecraft design for the Psyche mission concept, in 2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference (2018), pp. 1–20.

  19. 19.

    W.F. Bottke Jr, D. Vokrouhlický, D.P. Rubincam, D. Nesvorný, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 34, 157 (2006).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    P. Farinella, D. Vokrouhlický, W.K. Hartmann, Icarus 132, 378 (1998).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    J. Borovička, P. Spurný, P. Brown, P. Wiegert, P. Kalenda, D. Clark, L. Shrbený, Nature 503, 235 (2013).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    S.P. Naidu, L.A. Benner, J.L. Margot, M.W. Busch, P.A. Taylor, Astron. J. 152, 99 (2016).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    A.F. Cheng, A.S. Rivkin, P. Michel, J. Atchison, O. Barnouin, L. Benner, N.L. Chabot, C. Ernst, E.G. Fahnestock, M. Kueppers, P. Pravec, Planet. Space Sci. 157, 104 (2018).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    S.S. Cohen, A.K. Misra, J. Guidance Control Dyn. 30, 1711 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    A.A. Burov, A.D. Guerman, I.I. Kosenko, Celestial Mech. Dyn. Astron. 120, 337 (2014).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    A.K. Misra, Acta Astron. 63, 1169 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Y. Ishige, S. Kawamoto, S. Kibe, Acta Astron. 55, 917 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    E.J. Ivan der Heide, M. Kruijff, Acta Astron. 48, 503 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    J.R. Sanmartin, E.C. Lorenzini, J. Propul. Power 21, 573 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    F.C.F. Venditti, A.K. Misra, Deflection of a binary asteroid system using tethers, in , 66th International Astronautical Congress, IAC-15-D4.3.1 (2015).

  31. 31.

    F.C.F. Venditti, L.O. Marchi, A.K. Misra, A.F.B.A. Prado, Dynamics of tethered binary asteroid systems, in 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, LPSC #1885 (2018).

  32. 32.

    W.M. Kaula, Theory of Satellite Geodesy (Blaisdell, Waltham, MA, 1966).

  33. 33.

    J.P. Vinti, Orbital and Celestial Mechanics (AIAA, 1998), Vol. 177.

  34. 34.

    R.A. Werner, D.J. Scheeres, Celestial Mech. Dyn. Astron. 65, 313 (1996).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    M.C. Nolan, C. Magri, E.S. Howell, L.A. Benner, J.D. Giorgini, C.W. Hergenrother, R.S. Hudson, D.S. Lauretta, J.L. Margot, S.J. Ostro, D.J. Scheeres, Icarus 226, 629 (2013).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    D.S. Lauretta, D.N. DellaGiustina, C.A. Bennett, D.R. Golish, K.J. Becker, S.S. Balram-Knutson, O.S. Barnouin, T.L. Becker, W.F. Bottke, W.V. Boynton, H. Campins, Nature 568, 55 (2019).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov [accessed 2019 Dec 18].

  38. 38.

    J.W. McMahon, A.S. French, D.J. Scheeres, D.N. Brack, S.R. Chesley, D. Farnocchia, Y. Takahashi, J. Leonard, J. Geeraert, B. Page, P. Antreasian, Mass and Gravity Field Estimation of (101955) Bennu from Osiris-Rex Observations, in 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 2019 March (2019), LPI Contribution No. 2132, id.1605.

  39. 39.

    D.M. Sanchez, A.A. Sukhanov, A.F.B.A. Prado, Rev. Mex. Astron. Astrofs. 55, 1 (2019).

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    F.C.F. Venditti, E.M. Rocco, A.F.B. de Almeida Prado, A. Suhkanov, Acta Astron. 67, 1255 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    A. Sukhanov, A.F.B. de Almeida Prado, Astrophys. Space Sci. 364, 2 (2019).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Flaviane C. F. Venditti.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

The EPJ Publishers remain neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Venditti, F.C.F., Marchi, L.O., Misra, A.K. et al. Dynamics of tethered asteroid systems to support planetary defense. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 229, 1463–1477 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjst/e2020-900183-y

Download citation