Iowa State research center wins grant to study asteroid deflection

Bong Wie, Aerospace Engineering,
William Byrd, Iowa Space Grant Consortium, 515 294-3106,
Mary Jo Glanville, Engineering Communications and Marketing, 515 294-8787,

Ames, Iowa—The Iowa State University Asteroid Deflection Research Center (ADRC), established in April 2008, has won its first research contract to study and develop technologies to mitigate the threat posed by asteroids.

The Iowa Space Grant Consortium (ISGC), a NASA-supported organization, will award more than $300,000 over a three-year period for the project led by Bong Wie, the ADRC director and Vance D. Coffman Chair Professor in Aerospace Engineering. The award is the first asteroid mitigation/deflection research project to be funded by NASA, according to Wie.

Wie’s proposal, “Development of Integrated System Architectures and Innovative Technologies for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveys and Threat Mitigation,” was selected from a field of three finalists.   

“Asteroid mitigation is a timely and compelling topic,” said William Byrd, ISGC director. “I don’t know of any other competitively awarded grants from NASA in this area, so with the ADRC already established, this is fertile ground for getting in early and developing a strength and expertise that addresses a high-priority technical challenge.”

The proposal includes a definitive plan for collaborations with other groups and development into a self-sustaining program, which is one of the criteria for the ISGC grants. “Collaborating with NASA and other agencies and organizations indicates a high likelihood that they will succeed in becoming self-sustaining,” noted Byrd.

The research team includes Wie; John Basart, Iowa State professor emeritus, electrical and computer engineering; Alfred Kracher, scientist, Ames Lab; Quang Lam, chief scientist, Orbital Sciences Corporation; Brent Barbee, aerospace engineer, Emergent Space Technologies, Incorporated; Robert Adams, aerospace technologist, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; and Yvonne Pendleton, astrophysicist, NASA Ames Research Center.