|Mission type||Asteroid flyby|
|Mission duration||2 years (planned)|
|Launch mass||≈ 182 kg (401 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2022 (proposed)|
|Flyby of 2 Pallas|
If Athena is funded, it would share the launch vehicle with the Psyche and Janus spacecraft and fly its own trajectory for a Mars gravity assist to slingshot into the asteroid belt. It would take about two years to reach Pallas. The mission's principal investigator is Joseph O'Rourke, at Arizona State University.
The Athena spacecraft was examined in Category 1 of the 2018 NASA SIMPLEx competition and was eliminated before reaching Category 2; it will possibly be proposed at a later unknown time. The Athena mission was beaten by other mission concepts such as the TransOrbital TrailBlazer lunar orbiter.
The science goals and objectives include:
Athena would conduct visible imaging of the geology of Pallas with a miniature color (RGB) camera. Also, a radio science experiment would use continuous antenna pointing to Earth for two-way Doppler tracking to enable the determination of the mass of Pallas with a precision of <0.05%.