NASA Wants to Capture Asteroids for Exploration
April 12, 2013 1:25 PM
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It also wants to redirect large asteroids that may harm Earth
NASA is planning to capture both large and small asteroids for the purpose of studying them -- and also redirecting them if they happen to
NASA's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal talks about catching near-Earth asteroids robotically and sending them to orbit in the Earth-moon system. That way, astronauts can safely travel to the asteroids and explore them.
According to this initiative, it will use both current and developing technology to move large, hazardous asteroids away from Earth and capture the smaller ones for exploration. Some of the current technology that will be used includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.
NASA is preparing for an asteroid landing in other ways too, such as simulating the environment for astronauts. For instance, the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) launched 15 simulated asteroid missions in 2011 and 16 in 2012. These missions simulated various challenges astronauts would face when visiting an asteroid, such as how to collect samples, anchor to it and move around the surface.
Last week, The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board held a joint meeting in Washington to discuss the future goals of human space exploration. The parties seemed torn between continuing on with an asteroid landing or planning another trip to the moon.
Al Carnesale of UCLA said there wasn't much enthusiasm for
an asteroid landing
since its initial announcement three years ago, but NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagreed.
“NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission. NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime," said Bolden. "And the reason is, we can only do so many things.”
Bolden believes NASA should stick to the plan of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030.
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RE: What a load of crap
4/13/2013 12:36:52 AM
The funny thing about rock, iron, and ice is that they are cheap or worthless here on the ground, but ridiculously expensive to get in orbit. Iron obviously has uses. Most of the "rock" that makes up asteroids is actually nickel ore. Water can be used for life support or fuel. All things that would be enormously help to have in orbit if you wanted to explore the solar system.
And in fact, the amount of useful materials in the average asteroid make shipping things home not as ridiculous as they seem. An average asteroid has about as much nickel as has ever been mined in human history. Has billions of dollars in platinum and other precious metals. And in ores that make the richest mines on earth look like damp clay.
RE: What a load of crap
4/14/2013 11:11:20 AM
Not only that but the fact that practicing moving an asteroid is a pretty important thing to do. This would give us a way to defend in the case of a large asteroid was headed towards earth. We kind of need to practice.
Of course that leaves out the idea that an error in moving a 100 ton asteroid into earth orbit could be disastrous. There is that little problem. But overall I think the ability to maneuver an asteroid is far more beneficial. And if we can find asteroid that have viable fuel sources on them to park into orbit then it would make a better refueling and relaunch point than any moon base.
RE: What a load of crap
4/15/2013 11:59:33 AM
"Rock Rats" series of novels by Ben Bova started out at about our time period, added a fusion rocket concept and in no time had mining-ship owning prospectors going out to the local belt to poke around and bring back promising rocks of all sizes.
It would be a huge boon to our natural resources. And if there was any kind of local base.. they would pay up for any rocks found that contained water or ice because they might also have usable oxygen. Haul precious metals to earth's orbit, and life support materials to the local base.
Tough to setup.. but kind of inevitable. Maybe only corps can file the rights to mine a belt but it could also create a ton of jobs.
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