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Touch-and-Go Sampling Probe

Touch-and-Go Sampling Probe


This research aims to develop a technology to realize multiple free takeoffs and landings on the surface of very distant small to medium-sized celestial objects, which are the frontier of space science. In particular, this research aims to realize a simple and flexible means of accessing celestial bodies from the viewpoint of propulsion system technology and guidance and navigation control technology by utilizing solid motors, which have not been focused on in deep space missions so far.



Hayabusa and Hayabusa2 were tasked with the important task of collecting samples from small objects and returning them to Earth by re-entry capsule. While this is a very significant accomplishment from the perspective of space engineering, it also presents technical difficulties in that no direct measures can be taken after launch. From a risk management perspective, the top priority is to return the spacecraft to Earth, so various risks must be considered in advance when performing touchdowns for sample recovery. For example, Hayabusa2 was a mission in which the spacecraft itself touched down on the asteroid Ryuguu (1999JU3). Therefore, one of the major risks is the failure of the spacecraft due to touchdown. Hayabusa2 also performed multiple touchdowns on Ryuguu, so the loss of samples due to touchdowns after the second touchdown is also a risk. Therefore, the new sample return mission should be designed to avoid these risks. The establishment of a wide variety of exploration methods contributes to the freedom of target object selection and operation, and thus expands the feasibility of future deep space exploration missions.
In this study, we examine system considerations and control methods for a small spacecraft that will perform sampling for a next-generation sampling return mission. The behavior of the probe from the viewpoint of design characteristics will be discussed. We also investigate effective control methods for the probe and confirm their usefulness using numerical simulations.