Near Earth Objects (NEOs) (Lecture)

Lecturer (assistant)
Duration2 SWS
TermSommersemester 2023
Language of instructionEnglish
DatesSee TUMonline


After attending the module course, students will be able to understand the physical properties of near-Earth objects and assess their threat potential to the Earth. They are also able to assess the design processes behind NEO deflection missions and to understand the political and organisational constraints of such an operation. They can also assess the technical capabilities of NEO observation and deflection.


The basic methods and tools for the detection, follow-up observations, and the characterisation of near-Earth objects will be discussed. Different methods to mitigate the threat of a possible asteroid impact will be covered. The different players currently active both in the technical and the political processes related to the topic will be presented. This will include activities at ESA, NASA and other space agencies, universities, and amateur astronomers. The lecture is held in English and is divided into the following teaching units: 1. General introduction (2 hours) 2. From observations to measurements (2 hours) 3. Orbit determination and first impact warning (4 hours) 4. Asteroid physical properties determination (4 hours) 5. Impact effects and consequences (2 hours) 6. Threat mitigation and avoiding an impact (4 hours) 7. Table-top exercise: What to do in a case of an imminent impact threat? (2 hours) 8. Summary (2 hours)


Participation in the courses Spacecraft Design and Orbit and Flight Mechanics is recommended as a prerequisite. However, these are not absolutely necessary for successful participation in the module course.

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture for theoretical knowledge transfer and exercise in which the acquired knowledge is applied.


90-minute written exam at the end of the semester. The exam is open-book and all aids (lecture notes, books, own notes, calculator, internet research) may be used. In the exam it is checked that the students have both understood the theoretical basics and can apply them in practice. It is also checked whether the tools, methods and sources of information taught in the lecture can be combined and applied correctly.