A few weeks ago, GomSpace Luxembourg organised a landing workshop for the Juventas mission. This 6U CubeSat will explore the binary asteroid system Didymos, and attempt a landing on the surface of the asteroid moon Dimorphos at the end of its mission in 2027.
This experimental landing operation is challenging: Dimorphos measures only 160 meters across and therefore has a very weak gravitational field. As the asteroid is also expect to have a rough and rocky terrain, Juventas is expected to perform several bounces on the surface before coming to rest in an unknown attitude.
The landing workshop, led by Dr. Stefaan Van wal, provided a discussion forum in which the European asteroid science community could provide suggestions on how to best perform and plan for the Juventas landing. The workshop involved experts from various organisations, including observatories (Royal Observatory of Belgium, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur), space agencies (CNES, DLR, ESA), and universities (ISAE-Supaero, Politecnico di Milano, University of Glasgow).
The discussion topics included landing operations design, experimental approaches to perform low-velocity micro-gravity impact tests, and methods to simulate the landing dynamics. The video shows such a simulation, in which the landing dynamics of Juventas are simulated in 2D while accounting for the complex solar array dynamics.