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NEA Scout



The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) mission employs a 6U CubeSat and a solar sail to fly by and return images of Near Earth Asteroid 1991 VG. The primary objectives of the mission are to make at least one slow close flyby and return images and observe the asteroid's position in space, shape, rotational properties, spectral class, local dust and debris field, regional morphology, and regolith properties. The spacecraft is scheduled to be a ride-on mission on the Artemis 1 launch in 2021.

NEA Scout is a 6U (10 x 20 x 30 cm) CubeSat with a deployable 86 square meter solar sail. Total mass of the spacecraft is about 14 kg. Power is supplied by two deployable solar panels and rechargeable lithium batteries. Attitude is maintained by a cold gas reaction control system, reaction wheels, star trackers, and sun sensors. Communications are via the Iris transponder system, a pair of low-gain antennas, and a patch medium-gain antenna. The camera is a 20 M pixel CMOS image sensor with a useful array size of 3840 x 3840 pixels.

After launch as a ride-on on Artemis 1 on an SLS Block 1 booster, nominally in the fall of 2021, the NEA Scout will use its solar sails to spiral out of the Earth-Moon system. Over approximately 2 years it will reach the asteroid, conduct reconnaissance, and conduct a slow flyby (10 - 20 m/s) and return images from closer than 1 km. Total mission time is a little over 2 years. Asteroid 1991 VG is estimated to be about 5 - 12 meters across.

Image credit: NASA

Alternate Names

    Facts in Brief

    Launch Date: 2021-11-22
    Launch Vehicle: SLS Block 1 Crew
    Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
    Mass: 14 kg

    Funding Agency

    • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


    • Planetary Science

    Additional Information

    Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



    NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
    Dr. Barbara CohenProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight
    Dr. Leslie McNuttProject ManagerNASA Marshall Space Flight
    Dr. Julie Castillo-RogezMission Principal InvestigatorNASA Jet Propulsion
    Dr. Charles Les JohnsonMission Principal InvestigatorNASA Marshall Space Flight
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