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Pocket rockets
Lunar Meteoroid Impacts Observer, Lumio
Image Credit: ESA

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Imagine a fleet of small satellites able to work together, flying to deep space targets, hitching a lift on the launch of other spacecraft. As Roger Walker and his ESA colleagues write, this is now in the Space Agency's plans/

CubeSats are small modular spacecraft that have built a reputation as a cost-effective way into space. Students, schools and  nations have used them to send experiments into Earth orbit. But they have the potential to reach the Moon and even further, by hitching a ride on the launch of larger spacecraft. 

The potential of CubeSats to work as a constellation in deep space locations is something that has attracted the attention of ESA researchers; one larger 'mother' spacecraft can coordinate the work of many 'daughter' CubeSats and make possible new investigations.  Watching for impacts onto the Moon, tracking the debris from impacts on asteroids, and tracking the population of near-Earth asteroids are all missions considered in an article that sheds light on the process of mission design as well as the surprising potential of these pocket rockets.  


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