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NASA Earth Science

Asteroid Passes Closer To Earth Than the Moon on Nov 8 169

First time accepted submitter TheNextCorner writes "NASA scientists will be tracking asteroid 2005 YU55 with antennas of the agency's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, Calif., as the space rock safely flies past Earth slightly closer than the moon's orbit on Nov. 8. Scientists are treating the flyby of the 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity – allowing instruments on 'spacecraft Earth' to scan it during the close pass. "
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Asteroid Passes Closer To Earth Than the Moon on Nov 8

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  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @08:37PM (#37928932)

    First, you wouldn't try to capture it as it's whizzing by the Earth with a giant delta-V, you'd strap a rocket to it (or something) and slowly change its trajectory so that it eventually became "parked" in a location convenient to the earth, perhaps in a Lagrangian point, with zero delta-V. This would obviously take some time; one of those new ion engines, working over the course of a few years, might do the trick; it wouldn't be an overnight operation.

    Secondly, no, building the equipment would be cheap if you already had manufacturing facilities in space (or someplace low-gravity, like the moon), and already had designs in place and had already built such equipment before. Getting to that point is obviously expensive, but obviously you wouldn't build a whole space program to capture one asteroid and mine it, and then quit. (Well, if you're America, you might....) You'd do this with lots of asteroids, and pretty soon you've easily repaid your investment. It's like building a factory: you don't spend $3 billion to make a semiconductor fab and then just build one chip, you build many millions of them, and eventually pay back your investment.

"The most important thing in a man is not what he knows, but what he is." -- Narciso Yepes