The H2020 "Stardust Reloaded" project starts

A study on innovative methods to detect and divert asteroids on a collision course with the Earth

Space is increasingly crowded, satellites, asteroids, comets can be a risk of collision with our planet, therefore, we must tackle this issue in time in order to avoid potentially catastrophic situations.

For this reason, the four-year Stardust Reloaded project (Stardust-R) was launched, which aims to find preventative solutions to the problem, through 4 million euro financed by the Horizon2020 - Marie Sklodowska -Curie Actions Initial Training Networks (ITN) programme.

The project will define innovative methods for detectionand possible deviation of asteroids on a collision course with the Earth, while allowing to improve the knowledge on shape, weight, composition and dynamics of these celestial bodies. Stardust-R will also acquire information about the use of mineral resources that can be found on asteroids, which, once identified and reached, can be used as rare metal mines, thanks to asteroid mining techniques.

The part of project done by Politecnico di Milano, coordinated by prof. Francesco Topputo of the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology, will study in particular the application of autonomous navigation techniques and orbital control of CubeSats, the nanosatellites used for missions to asteroids or comets, in order to study their shape and characteristics or take samples to be brought back on Earth. The aim is to limit the number of interplanetary probes towards these celestial bodies, to develop algorithms able to drive the satellites in an autonomous way, and therefore obtaining a substantial saving of time and economic resources.

Coordinated by the University of Stratchclyde in Scotland, Stardust - R, in addition to Politecnico di Milano, includes 20 partners including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the national agencies of France (CNES) and Germany (DLR). The project will fund 15 Ph.D. scholarships for the same number of researchers. One of them will be recruited by the Department, with prof. Topputo as supervisor.