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Mars NASA Science

NASA Plans To "Lasso" Asteroid and Turn It Into Space Station 200

SternisheFan writes "NASA scientists are planning to capture a 500 ton asteroid, relocate it and turn it into a space station for astronauts to refuel on their way to Mars. From the article: 'The 1.6bn-pound plan will be considered by the White House's Office of Science and technology in the coming weeks, as it prepares to set its space exploration agenda for the next decade, the Daily Mail reported. According to a report prepared by NASA and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists, an, 'asteroid capture capsule' would be attached to an old Atlas V rocket and directed towards the asteroid between the earth and the moon. Once close, the asteroid capsule would release a 50ft diameter bag that would wrap around the spinning rock using drawstrings. The craft would then turn on its thrusters, using an estimated 300kg of propellant, to stop the asteroid in its tracks and tow it into a gravitationally neutral spot. From here space explorers would have a stationary base from which to launch trips deeper into space. Though NASA declined to comment on the project, it is believed that technology would make it possible within 10-12 years. The technology would also open up the possibility of mining other asteroids for their metals and minerals. Some are full of iron which could be used in the making of new space stations, others are made up of water which could be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make fuel. It is hoped that the project will increase our understanding of asteroids, and even shed new light on the origin of life on Earth.'"
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NASA Plans To "Lasso" Asteroid and Turn It Into Space Station

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  • by Jagjr ( 1734396 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @11:37AM (#42381617)
    "... the Daily Mail reported." All i have to say
  • Misfit by RAH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @11:45AM (#42381657)

    "a space station for astronauts to refuel on their way to Mars"

    I hope they hire Andy Libby to do their calculations.

    Anyway having a "gas station in space' is not that good unless you just have it in Earth orbit. Having one halfway to mars is not going to work because you would have to slow down to dock with it and waste delta V

  • Re:illogical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coward Anonymous ( 110649 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:01PM (#42381739)

    The idea is to use energy when you are close to the sun, where photovoltaics are practical. The stored energy is then used when you are distant from the sun, where photovoltaics are not practical.

    Look up Lagrange points for a "neutral spot".

    Hand in your nerd card at the exit.

  • action == reaction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:14PM (#42381847) Homepage Journal

    and when they launch to another planet from the asteroid, it will be kicked out of its "neutral" orbit and enter a declining apogee which eventually causes it to crash into Earth.

    boy, I hope that colonization thing works OK

  • Re:illogical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:24PM (#42381911) Homepage Journal

    And you know, NASA doesn't have anyone who understands basic thermodynamics or orbital mechanics. [rolls eyes]

    Other posters have already pointed out the specific problems with what you wrote, but what bugs me more about this post, and the thousands more like it, on just about any story dealing with any scientific topic, is the inherent assumption that some random dude on /. has seen an obvious logical hole that the people whose job it is to study the subject every day for years have missed, usually based on said random /.er's half-remembered high school "science class" or undergrad Physics 101 class. Now, this is certainly possible--in all fields, amateurs sometimes see things that the professionals miss--but it's really not the way to bet.

    Try thinking before you post. Just give it a shot sometime. You might be surprised by the results.

  • Re:Misfit by RAH (Score:4, Insightful)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:50PM (#42382071) Journal

    Not necessarily, going from Earth to Mars means you not only have to travel up through Earth's gravity well, but the sun's as well, so there may be no delta V between the fueling station and the vehicle to Mars at that point. The other point is it's much easier to get to Mars than it is to get there and back, in space travel energy budgets always trumps distance; Frequntly just getting off a planet's surface is half or more of the trip energy wise, and there is noway to get around spending the energy to get off the Marsian surface. Since there will be humans on board, time of flight is also a factor, since we don't want the raditation exposure during the trip to fry them into crispy critters.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @01:02PM (#42382155) Journal

    What do you mean? The Mayan apocalypse didn't happen. Looks like NASA did a perfect job in dispelling it.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.