PANIC A surface science package for the in situ characterization of a near-Earth asteroid

Karsten Schindler, Cristina A. Thomas, Vishnu Reddy, Andreas Weber, Stefan Gruska, Stefanos Fasoulas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper presents the results of a mission concept study for an autonomous micro-scale surface lander also referred to as PANIC the Pico Autonomous Near-Earth Asteroid In Situ Characterizer. The lander is based on the shape of a regular tetrahedron with an edge length of 35 cm, has a total mass of approximately 12 kg and utilizes hopping as a locomotion mechanism in microgravity. PANIC houses four scientific instruments in its proposed baseline configuration which enable the in situ characterization of an asteroid. It is carried by an interplanetary probe to its target and released to the surface after rendezvous. Detailed estimates of all critical subsystem parameters were derived to demonstrate the feasibility of this concept. The study illustrates that a small, simple landing element is a viable alternative to complex traditional lander concepts, adding a significant science return to any near-Earth asteroid (NEA) mission while meeting tight mass budget constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1800-1810
Number of pages11
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroid
  • Exploration
  • In situ
  • Lander
  • NEA
  • Small spacecraft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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