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: We've already done the moon, remember?
4/15/2013 2:46:30 AM
"Asteroid landing. Yes as face value this is boring..."
When I said this, it was more to pull in those disappointed we we "only" going to some rock in space.
Seriously... the fact "we" (humanity) can detect and pick out an arbitrary, high speed, and rather small object in space, and then have the precision to land a person on it, and have them be able to get out, walk around and tromp around on it? That's not just some sensor scan or pretty pictures, that's having some person actually go down there, and be able to physically kick something the same way you can get up and kick something out of your yard. That's frigging amazing.
Also consider the person who gets to walk on that asteroid... probably will not only be the first, but only human to ever walk on it. Ever. Kinda redefines walking on unexplored land.
Just some things to consider.
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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