The Stardust Reloaded project is a pan-European research project which will investigate how to achieve sustainability in space by exploiting asteroids.
The original Stardust project began in 2013 and created new techniques for a asteroid and space debris monitoring, removal, and deflection. The original project was able to explore the synergy between communities studying asteroids and the community studying space debris around the Earth. The Stardust Reloaded project is a four year project which will further the investigation into asteroids and sustainability in space.
Specifically the project is also expected to increase scientific knowledge on:
• The shape, gravity, composition, and dynamics of asteroids and comets
• The possible actions to prevent catastrophic impacts of asteroids with the Earth
• How scientists can exploit mineral resources on minor celestial bodies to enhance solar system exploration
Why is an investigation into sustainability in space needed?
The project leader, Professor Massimiliano Vasile of the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, said: “In the case of asteroids, we want to explore new ways of travelling to them, exploring them and characterising them with a view to understanding how we might exploit them with technologies still under development.”
The Stardust Reloaded project intends to investigate the safe management of increasing space traffic to prevent collisions and achieve sustainability in space. Vasile added: “There are so many people launching satellites now – particularly smaller and smaller ones – that the risk of collision, and with it the risk of setting off a cascade, is greatly increasing…with this project we aim to understand how the growth in satellites orbiting Earth affects the evolution of the space environment and how we can best manage that.”
Funding the project
The Stardust Reloaded project is made up of 20 partners including the European, French and German space agencies. Vasile was awarded funding through the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Initial Training Networks (ITN) action of the European Union H2020 programme.
Vasile commented on achieving the funding: “These funding opportunities are extremely competitive with a success rate of around just six or seven percent…So it is incredibly satisfying to have been so successful with our applications. It is a reflection of the quality of the projects and the prestige of the partners involved.”