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NASA Space

A Year After Chelyabinsk, NASA Readying Asteroid Response Mission 64

An anonymous reader sends this NASA report: "One year ago, on Feb. 15, 2013, the world was witness to the dangers presented by near-Earth Objects (NEOs) when a relatively small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere, exploding over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and releasing more energy than a large atomic bomb. ... NASA is now pursuing new partnerships and collaborations in an Asteroid Grand Challenge to accelerate NASA's existing planetary defense work, which will help find all asteroid threats to human population and know what to do about them. In parallel, NASA is developing an Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) — a first-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid to a safe orbit of Earth's moon for future exploration by astronauts in the 2020s. ... NASA is assessing two concepts to robotically capture and redirect an asteroid mass into a stable orbit around the moon. In the first proposed concept, NASA would capture and redirect an entire very small asteroid. In the alternative concept, NASA would retrieve a large, boulder-like mass from a larger asteroid and return it to this same lunar orbit. In both cases, astronauts aboard an Orion spacecraft would then study the redirected asteroid mass in the vicinity of the moon and bring back samples."
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A Year After Chelyabinsk, NASA Readying Asteroid Response Mission

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  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @01:39PM (#46255087) Homepage
    That will be interesting for amateur astronomers as well. I know I would love to check that out
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      That hadn't occurred to me. How big a scope would you need to see it? Could you see it with the naked eye? The ISS is certainly bright, although it's nowhere near as far as the moon but much smaller than what came down in Russia.

      • I dont know the details, but I would wager naked eye would be out of the question, then again I have no idea how big of a rock they will eventually end up with
        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          I just RTFA, you won't be seeing it with the naked eye or even binoculars. Still don't know how big a telescope you'll need, but they're talking boulder-sized. Probably only the most serious of hobbyists will have the equipment but I'm probably wrong about that.

          • you can see quite a bit with a 500$ scope these days. I know thats not cheap by any means but for a scope thats fairly cheap.

            I believe it will be a small number of people who get a chance, but larger than most people would think
      • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

        Probably only see reflected light from solar panels, similar to Iridium Flares. At that distance, it's going to be pretty hard to spot with an amature scope.

      • The largest telescope in the world, under perfect conditions, can see an object on the Moon about the size of a small house. It's hard to imagine any amateur telescope seeing an asteroid that is small enough to be moved into Lunar orbit.
      • What came down in Chelyabinsk was not much bigger than an SUV. The ISS is considerably bigger and more mass than an SUV.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Wikipedia says it was twenty meters with a mass of 12,000-13,000 metric tonnes. That's quite a bit larger than an SUV.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @01:43PM (#46255107)

    that almost everybody can agree deserves full funding

    • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @02:26PM (#46255295) Homepage Journal
      Not really. Couldn't robots do this at a fraction of the cost and risk?
      • The first thing that I thought of when I heard about this program was 'oh, now NASA has reason to put humans back in space again'.

        I really don't see the advantage of doing this with humans. The asteroid will be close enough that communications time lag won't be too big a problem. It's not like the Orion capsule can house a real laboratory - although there is some room compared to an Apollo Command Module, it's not all that large. The Orion isn't designed to dock with anything other than the ISS - it can'

        • it will not be just the orion. It is too small for 2, let alone 3 ppl to spend a month or more doing a mission. It will be the orion combined with a some unit, probably a Bigelow unit. Considering that a BA-330 weighs less than the Orion itself, it makes sense to send one up to
      • "NASA is assessing two concepts to robotically capture and redirect an asteroid"
        Robots are cheaper than robots?

      • the robots will do the capture and move it, not ppl. As to the rest of the mission, humans exploring it makes perfect sense once it is in lunar orbit. Both from the sense of costs as well as capabilities.
  • We've all been spelling it wrong, even the dictionaries, because that one in Russia last year certainly made an ass of itself. I guess in Britain the correct spelling is arseteroid.

    Seriously, though, this is the kind of stuff I could only dream of as a kid. Incredibly cool!

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It certainly showed how stupid the disaster movies are. From one of those clips a great big glowing meteor didn't seem to be a big enough deal to turn off the radio let alone stop driving.
  • Soon you can experiance the difficulty and possible mayhem for yourself in Kerbal Space Program. NASA is working with Squad to bring an official
    DLC to KSP highlighting this mission.

    Should be an absolute blast....and a huge feather in the cap for an indie game companys first foray into gaming. Especially since it is still in development (kind of an alpha game with an entire community of beta testers (and one place where beta doesn't suck!) If you have an interest, it is a truly unique game and well worth th
    • It's already unofficially available, look for KASA Asteroids (I helped a tiny bit with the deal!)
      • One of my installs uses that. I have three differently modded, until 64 bit occurs in Unity, I can't run everything I would like. But my favorite by far is clouds and city lights.

        I got it at v0.18 and have 730+ hours since it went on Steam a month or so later. Best $17 I ever spent on gaming.

        Kudos on your work to make an incredibly intricate and difficult game even harder! I love the astroids mod and as yet have not sucessfully completed a NASA analoge mission.....THANK YOU!
        • My spelling is horrible today. Maybe I should of gone to bed last night instead of Gilly......

          cue grammer and spelling Nazis in 3...2...1...
  • Thinking all Americans would be given a chance to get a car cam to record such things.

  • by Lije Baley ( 88936 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @02:09PM (#46255225)

    Armageddon/Deep Impact 2: NASA mission accidentally brings killer asteroid into collision course with earth. Or maybe a documentary on how NASA is using asteroid winter to cancel out global warming. Carefully done, we can kill only a few million poor folks every once in a while to preserve our precious beach front property.

    • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @02:33PM (#46255325) Homepage Journal

      They're talking about something the size of a boulder according to TFA. Earth gets hit by objects this size all the time.

      The diameter of the biggest impactor to hit Earth on any given day is likely to be about 40 centimeters, in a given year about 4 meters, and in a given century about 20 meters.

      "There are other elements involved, but if size were the only factor, we'd be looking for an asteroid smaller than about 40 feet (12 meters) across," said Paul Chodas, a senior scientist in the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Saturday February 15, 2014 @02:35PM (#46255339) Homepage Journal

      A boulder-sized asteroid won't hurt anyone. The one in Russia was heavier than the Eiffel Tower. You don't think the scientists at NASA have considered this??

  • Only a year after Chelyabinsk
    but 65 million years after chicxulub

  • Donald Rumsfeld called the most difficult problems requiring dealing with the unknown, unknowns.

    When you have an asteroid you detect with a long approach or known orbit, you have a manageable task in understanding what you can do.

    When an asteroid approaches from the Earth's blind spot obscured by the Sun, we may have only weeks or months and there may be no way to exert enough energy quickly enough to modify its trajectory.

    They refer to these situations as "extinction events" for a very good reason.

    • The asteroids that pose a threat will fall into two classes: those already in solar orbit and those that come from outside the influence of the Sun. The ones orbiting the Sun have had billions of years to impact the earth (and other planets), and thus the probability of a harmful event is so close to zero that it isn't worth bothering about. Those coming from outside will not be seen until they are too close to the Earth to change their path. They'll look like a dim and brightening star, not really moving a

    • Most asteroids large enough to cause an "extinction event" have been found and future orbits calculated for hundreds of years.
      What might hit are smaller asteroids and long period comets. There is almost nothing we could do with a large long period comet. While we might get several years of warning, there is almost nothing that could be done.
      Smaller asteroids we would get no warning on most of the time. There is a lot of sky, and only a tiny fraction of it is searched by something big enough to see a "city k

      • Even if we knew "all the asteroid obits", there is a fatal flaw in assuming that means we can define all potential impacts.

        Gravity and collisions in the outer solar system "belts" can suddenly change the orbit of a large asteroid.

        Just another of the unknown unknowns.

  • Its based on the SLS launcher and Orion vehicle - but political troubled projects. The mission seems technologically possible, but would likely be expensive and seems much larger and more complex than anything NASA has done recently.

    I hope they do it - but I'm very skeptical that we have the political will for such a project.

    • Actually, when we went to the moon, that was more than a magnitude more difficult. We had very little knowledge of surviving in space. In addition, we had very little knowledge of the moon. Then you add to it, the fact that nearly all of the technology was recently developed for this mission, you realize that SLS and even Orion are based on technology that is 50 years old. these are well tested and the mission itself will not be a huge issue.
      Probably the biggest issues will be:
      1) moving the asteroid whic
      • I don't think the younger ones can appreciate just how fast tech is happening.(just as our generation did not)

        To put it into a different perspective:
        Sputnik had not even reached voting age(USA) when we landed on the moon...using tech based on 25 year old tech(NAZI V-2 rockets)

        About the only thing I'd like to add to your list is:
        3) development of better radiation shielding for both spacecraft and spacesuits.
        4) coming up with ways to counteract physiological damage from long term micro-gravity exposure.

        (I rea

        • Good post. I would mod you up had I not posted here originally.
          #3 and 4 are accurate for LONG-term missions. For one that will last less than 1 month, they are not that important compared to the original 1 and 2. BUT, there is little doubt that those are up high on our needs for long-term needs.
          And yeah, I recall watching those original star treks. Not in re-runs, but original shows. With my dad, who flew B-47s at the time.
  • "...capture and redirect an asteroid to a safe orbit of Earth's moon for future exploration by astronauts in the 2020s." Note that it's already 2014. At this point, we couldn't get a box kite in the air in six to fifteen years, let alone a mission like this. No budget, no sense of urgency, and no time to divvy up the contracts amongst the congressional districts.

  • Perhaps we've got a solution for the use of our nuclear arsenals!
  • guess who is also going all in Asteroid Response? Russia. Not a mention of that in this thread. The Russians will probably far outspend the USA also. The USA is in a bad spot where Congress seems to think there is some virtue in reducing NASA's budget. The Russians intend to own this program which should create a lot of jobs.
    • That explains why a lot of sci-fi has China and Russia as the two primary 'Space Powers', and the US on the sidelines.

      When it comes to the whole 'space' thing, the Russians have always had the balls to stick to what was practical, and then 'just do it', while we seem to have lost our balls(politically, as far as NASA budgets go) on the moon somewhere.

      The Russian's 'ownership of space' happened some years back. Their only upcoming competitor seems to be China, but they are not really breathing down Russia's

  • Noes. Don't destroy 7 billion of us! (Nov. 2, 2000 rules)
  • by thygate ( 1590197 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @02:56AM (#46258321)
    Has anyone considered that this tech can be weaponized ? Of course I'm all for a planetary wide protection against space debris, but it seems that the technology to intercept and redirect asteroids and such could be used to selectively wipe out entire nations without there ever being a radiological alert going off ..
    • by rts008 ( 812749 )

      Has anyone considered that this tech can be weaponized ?

      Yes, I would say most of us(and those working on this, and others) have thought about this, discarded that as unjustified FUD, and moved on.

      It's not like we don't have experience with the destructive potential of nukes, or the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction. No, of course not!

      Too many players have the ability and means to do the same things, or to spot this happening for this to be a valid concern.

      No one wants to open your 'Pandora Box'...we can all see where it leads. It is truly one of

  • "and releasing more energy than a large atomic bomb" in the first reports it was "a small atomic bomb".

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.