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The Space Generation Advisory Council is a global non-governmental, non-profit (US 501(c)3) organisation and network which aims to represent university students and young space professionals to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia.



SGAC Announces the Winner of the 2011 Move an Asteroid Competition

6 September, 2011

A bright SGAC member from the United Kingdom is en route to the 10th Anniversary of the Space Generation Congress.

SGAC Announces the Winner of the 2011 Move an Asteroid Competition

6 September, 2011

SGAC's Near Earth Object Working Group is happy to announce the winner of the fourth annual Move an Asteroid technical paper competition: Alison Gibbings of the United Kingdom. The prize for this competition is a fully-paid trip to Cape Town, South Africa to attend and present the paper at the Space Generation Congress (SGC) 2011 and the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2011. The package includes round trip airfare, hotel, and registration fees for both conferences. Alison’s presentation and paper will be available on the SGAC website following the conferences in Cape Town (see below for the abstract).

Alison_GibbingsThis fourth 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 effort.

This year’s winner, Alison Gibbings, is currently is currently a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde within the Advanced Concept Laboratory. Her research is focused on the experimental analysis and numerical modelling of asteroid deflection techniques. This includes kinematic impacts and surface laser ablation. Prior to this Alison completed the International Space University Space Studied Program and a Young Graduate Traineeship (Systems Engineering) at ESA/ESTEC. The latter involved working on developing planetary missions in preparation for the future human exploration of the Moon, and other planetary bodies.Alison has an MEng(Hons) in Aerospace Engineering and Astronautics from Kingston University, London. Her masters thesis detailed the design of an in-orbit Capture Mechanism for a Mars Sample Return Mission.  During her degree she was an intern at EADS Astrium working on the Mid Infrared Instrument; one of four instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This was followed by ESA selection to attend the 2007 NASA Academy. Hosted at the Goddard Space Flight Centre, Alison’s research focused on the optical misalignment of the Integrated Science Instrument Module on the JWST. Throughout her studies, Alison was also an active member (Vice-Chair, Secretary, conference committee) of the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) society. In her personal time, Alison enjoys rowing and is keen to keep exploring the world.

Commenting on her achievement, Alison expressed: “I am honoured and extremely grateful to be awarded the 2011 Move an Asteroid competition. I look forward to participating at the 2011 Space Generation Congress and the 2011 International Astronautical Congress. The effective deflection and mitigation of asteroid is a truly global endeavour, and I am very pleased that my relative contribution has been acknowledged. The possibility of any impact event occurring holds a non-negligible risk for the future of humanity. I therefore remain deeply appreciative for the SGAC in hosting the Move the Asteroid competition and for the endless support of my Supervisor, Dr Massimiliano Vasile.”

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 join it, please see here.

2011 Move an Asteroid Winning Paper Abstract:

This paper presents a novel idea for the successful deflection of asteroids. Adapted initially from the kinematic impactor approach, this new concept – Smart Cloud – combines the relative benefits of ion beaming in providing a large cloud of small particles for the effective deflection and mitigation of asteroids. The cloud consists of a large number of incredibly low mass nano-size spacecraft that are released at a high relative velocity. Upon impact with the asteroid the smart cloud is shown to be highly effective in creating a large artificial drag, and therefore an associated thrust, onto the asteroid. The technique is also advantageous in avoiding the catastrophic fragmentation of the asteroid which might otherwise occur with the impact of a monolithic spacecraft and/or projectile. The impact energy of each colliding particle is significantly lower than the impact energy for disruption. . For analysis the smart cloud approach has been compared to other methods of potential deflection. This includes the low-thrust tug and the ion beaming technique. The paper will show that when the total deflection mass of the smart cloud is equivalent to the ion beaming approach, is has the advantage of significantly reducing the system mass and complexity of the spacecraft design. It is also superior in the deflection and mitigation of deep crossing asteroids.

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 put on a one day outreach event in Bucharest, Romania in conjunction with the Planetary Defense Conference..




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