SGAC Announces the Winner of the 2012 Move an Asteroid Competition

30 August, 2012

SGAC's Near Earth Object Working Group is happy to announce the winner of the fifth annual Move an Asteroid technical paper competition: Sung Wook Paek, from the USA. The prize for this competition is a fully paid trip to Naples, Italy to attend and present the paper at the Space Generation Congress (SGC) 2012 and the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2012. The package includes round trip airfare, hotel, and registration fees for both conferences. Sung Wook Paek’s presentation and paper will be available on the SGAC website following the conferences in Naples (see below for the abstract).

This fifth edition of the competition challenged university students and young professionals worldwide to come up with innovative, technical solutions for detecting Near Earth Objects (NEOs), deflecting NEOs, or developing a global asteroid impact early warning system. The creative submissions, gathered from around the world, clearly demonstrated that when the right young minds are given the right opportunity, great ideas can flourish. SGAC would like to extend our congratulations to all applicants on their impressive efforts.

Sung PaekThis year’s winner, Sung Wook Paek, received his dual B.S. degrees in aerospace engineering and electrical engineering from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, in 2010.  He then received his M.S. degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA, in 2012. His masters thesis investigated the optimisation of reconfigurable satellite constellations for geo-spatially adaptive Earth observation missions. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Strategic Engineering Research Group (SERG) at MIT, and is also affiliated with the Space Systems Laboratory (SSL).

 

 

Commenting on his achievement, Sung expressed:

“First and foremost, I feel truly excited and honoured to present and share my idea of deflecting an asteroid using so-called paintball clouds. The scholarship is especially meaningful to me because this paper will be my first paper in which I’m the first author! Meanwhile, I’m also assured (and relieved) to find that my long-cherished dream towards space can also contribute to humanity. Speaking of humanity, there’s an interesting anecdote behind my idea of paintball clouds. I had an opportunity to chat with my cousin at Columbia University, where a heavy emphasis is placed on humanities requirements including arts, music, and history during its undergraduate programme. When I gave him this asteroid deflection problem, along with some hints, he came up with the exact same idea within seconds, whereas it took me several hours to formulate this idea. It reminded me that the most innovative ideas can be produced at the intersection of engineering and humanities, as can be seen from Steve Jobs, who studied physics, literature and poetry as an undergraduate. Therefore, I believe that participating in SGC and IAC in Naples, while enjoying the rich cultural heritage of Italy, will be the best opportunity for students and young professionals to inspire themselves!”

SGAC would like to commend and thank the volunteer members of the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Working Group for their hard work in holding this competition once again. For more information on the NEO Working Group, including how to become an active member, please see here.


 

2012 Move an Asteroid Winning Paper Abstract:

In this paper, the smart cloud concept for asteroid deflection is further developed by utilising each particle as a container for paint powders and deploying multiple drag clouds to paint the surface of an asteroid. This enables the deflection of an asteroid by means of a low-thrust, long-duration solar radiation pressure (SRP), as well as kinetic impacts from the drag clouds themselves. Additional deflection achievable by this “paintball cloud” is investigated for a sample case of 99942 Apophis. More applications of the multi-functional clouds and future work are also discussed.

More About SGAC’s NEO Working Group

The Near Earth Object Working Group is dedicated to helping the worldwide planetary defense community to meet one of nature's greatest challenges. The group provides a youth perspective to planetary defense through annual reports, competitions, conference attendance and public outreach projects related to Near Earth Objects. Using the SGAC's status as a member of Action Team 14 within UN COPUOS, the Group assists in the international efforts to bringing about a UN framework for addressing NEOs. Additionally, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart is supporting us explore potential opportunities to work together with the Association of Space Explorers. The Working Group also sponsors the annual Move an Asteroid technical paper competition, and has recently produced a 30-minute documentary on Near Earth Objects, as well as hosted a one-day outreach event in Bucharest, Romania, in conjunction with the Planetary Defense Conference.


 

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