The MILO Space Science Institute: Enabling new, science-focused deep space SmallSat missions

J. F. Bell, L. Papsidero, T. Linn, T. S.J. Gabriel, S. Smas, D. Thomas, L. Levin, L. Champion, V. Reddy, D. E. Trilling

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


More than 20,000 Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) have been catalogued to date, representing a diverse population of sizes, compositions, densities, and solar system origins. Although none of these asteroids and comets pose a threat to our planet in the foreseeable future, roughly 10% of these bodies have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHO), meaning that they could have the potential to impact the Earth in the future. The MILO Space Science Institute, a non-profit deep space mission collaboration between Arizona State University, Lockheed Martin, and GEOShare, is planning two SmallSat missions to provide new scientific and Planetary Defense knowledge about NEOs: NEOShare and Apophis Pathfinder. NEOShare would deploy six SmallSats to perform close flybys of up to eight NEOs as they pass close to the Earth, substantially expanding the diversity of NEOs that have been characterized by spacecraft. Apophis Pathfinder would consist of two SmallSats that perform the first-ever close flyby of PHO (99942) Apophis several years before its extremely close Earth encounter in 2029. This mission would provide initial reconnaissance data that could help to inform and optimize other missions being designed to encounter that asteroid before, during, and after its 2029 Earth flyby. Both missions would be equipped with dedicated propulsion, communications, power, and other critical subsystems, and include scientific payloads consisting of cameras, spectrometers, or other heritage SmallSat instrumentation. Participation in these missions by MILO Institute members would enable opportunities for payload and spacecraft teaming, data processing and analytics, scientific discoveries, P.I. training, and mission-related workforce development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
StatePublished - 2020
Event71st International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Oct 12 2020Oct 14 2020


  • Apophis
  • Asteroids
  • MILO space science institute
  • Near-Earth Objects
  • SmallSat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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