CASTAway: An asteroid main belt tour and survey

N.E. Bowles, C. Snodgrass, A. Gibbings, J.P. Sanchez, J.A. Arnold, P. Eccleston, T. Andert, A. Probst, G. Naletto, A.C. Vandaele, J. de Leon, A. Nathues, I.R. Thomas, L. Jorda, V. Da Deppo, H. Haack, B. Carry, K.L. Donaldson Hanna, J. Leif Jorgensen, A. KereszturiF.E. DeMeo, M.R. Patel, F. Clarke, K. Kinch, J. K. Davies, A. Guilbert-Lepoutre, J. Agarwal, A.S. Rivkin, P. Pravec, S. Fornasier, M. Granvik, N. Murdoch, K.H. Joy, E. Pascale, M. Tecza, J.M. Barnes, J. Licandro, B.T. Greenhagen, S.B. Calcutt, C.M. Marriner, T. Warren, I. Tosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CASTAway is a mission concept to explore our Solar System?s main asteroid belt. Asteroids and comets provide a window into the formation and evolution of our Solar System and the composition of these objects can be inferred from space-based remote sensing using spectroscopic techniques. Variations in composition across the asteroid populations provide a tracer for the dynamical evolution of the Solar System. The mission combines a long-range (point source) telescopic survey of over 10,000 objects, targeted close encounters with 10?20 asteroids and serendipitous searches to constrain the distribution of smaller (e.g. 10?m) size objects into a single concept. With a carefully targeted trajectory that loops through the asteroid belt, CASTAway would provide a comprehensive survey of the main belt at multiple scales. The scientific payload comprises a 50?cm diameter telescope that includes an integrated low-resolution (R?=?30?100) spectrometer and visible context imager, a thermal (e.g. 6?16?µm) imager for use during the flybys, and modified star tracker cameras to detect small (?10?m) asteroids. The CASTAway spacecraft and payload have high levels of technology readiness and are designed to fit within the programmatic and cost caps for a European Space Agency medium class mission, while delivering a significant increase in knowledge of our Solar System.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1998-2025
Number of pages28
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number8
Early online date6 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018


  • Main Asteroid Belt; survey; flyby; mapping; remote sensing


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