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How NASA’s Plan to Capture an Asteroid is Crucial to Human Survival

RATE THIS! +29
Posted in Science on 18th Feb, 2014 03:29 AM by AlexMuller

NASA has committed to an operation in which they will grab an asteroid and put it into lunar orbit in the 2020s, using a robotic system to throw a 12-metre-wide rock into a space shopping bag, and then tow it to the Moon. This seemingly useless mission is actually crucial to the survival of humankind.

 

The space agency calls it the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The image above shows how NASA envisions one of the missions after capture: it will send astronauts to the asteroid in an Orion spacecraft to take samples and return them to Earth. The rings on the bag are hooks for the astronauts to move safely across the asteroid’s surface.
 
NASA has two ideas in mind to capture the asteroid. The first is to “retrieve a large, boulder-like mass from a larger asteroid and return it” to lunar orbit. Imagine it: sending a robotic ship to rendezvous with an asteroid, have it remove a chunk that is about 12 metres in diameter, put it inside a bag, and tow it to the Moon. It seems awfully difficult and dangerous.
 
The easier alternative is to “capture and redirect an entire very small asteroid.” There’s only one problem with this, according to Paul Chodas, a senior scientist at JPL’s Near-Earth Object Program Office:
 
There are hundreds of millions of objects out there in this size range, but they are small and don’t reflect a lot of sunlight, so they can be hard to spot. The best time to discover them is when they are brightest, when they are close to Earth.

Tags: NASAspacemoonasteroidAsteroid Redirect Mission

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+2
Asteroids are being focus of attention and NASA is making a good plans to capture them and hopefully find out the possible benefits
5 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+0
Yes, a shift in climate caused by a big asteroid strike may have killed off the dinosaurs. NASA is taking the risk of another such impact seriously enough to go looking for similar threats. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+1
That asteroid that exploded above Russia and caused extensive damage and injuries was very scary Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+0
It was reported that the asteroid fireball injured about 1,500 people and damaged more than 7,000 buildings. This shows the destructive potential of asteroids and that small asteroids can do far more damage than previously though Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+2
One important benefit of this mission is the future of space exploration. The experience and knowledge we gather from the capturing and towing will serve us to capture bigger asteroids for mining
4 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+2
NASA and Planetary Resources-an asteroid mining startup-have come together for a crowdsourced campaign to make that happen. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+0
The expectation is not a mountain of extraterrestrial supply of metal - the aim is to fuel human voyages deeper into the galaxy and to protect Earth Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-18
+2
They are investing $20 million per year in the search for potentially hazardous asteroids through this Near Earth Object Observation Program. Great! Reply


 

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