Human exploration of near earth asteroids: Architecture of proximity operations

Simon Tardivel*, Yu Takahashi, Aline K. Zimmer, JFC Herman, Johannes P.J. Reijneveld, Kathryn L. Dunlop, Daniel J. Scheeres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper outlines the strategic approach to realize a human mission to an asteroid, focusing specifically on the proximity operations. The risks and challenges posed by asteroid surfaces to in-situ investigations force the proximity operations to be done by the intermediary of robotic explorers. In this architecture, a precursor is sent years in advance to a potential target asteroids. Its main goals are the characterization of the gravity field and of the surface behavior. If the target is found suitable, the manned mission then proceeds. With their main spacecraft stationed on a stable orbit around the asteroid, the astronauts are transported to the surface via a small, unpressurized spacecraft. Hovering a few meters above the surface, they deploy and command small robotic landers that perform scientific operations at the surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalActa Astronautica
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Asteroid
  • Human exploration
  • NEO
  • Proximity operations


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