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NASA Space Science

NASA Funds Projects For Asteroid-Capture Plan 65

An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced funding for 18 different projects aimed at developing an asteroid retrieval mission. "The agency is working on two concepts for the mission. The first concept would fully capture a very small asteroid in free space and the other would retrieve a boulder off of a much larger asteroid. Both concepts would redirect an asteroid mass less than 10 meters in size to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) would rendezvous with the captured asteroid mass in lunar orbit and collect samples for return to Earth." Astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope have also identified and measured the size of a candidate near-earth asteroid. It measures roughly six meters in diameter, and seems to be held together lightly, possible as a "pile of rubble."
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NASA Funds Projects For Asteroid-Capture Plan

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  • Re:Dog and the Car (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Friday June 20, 2014 @01:50PM (#47283263)

    Actually, they do. I recall seeing an interview with the people at NASA behind this project on CBS. They said that the goal would be to mine captured asteroids for two things: valuable metals (they specified platinum, but there are probably plenty of others) and ice. The ice is particularly important because it can be used to obtain hydrogen and oxygen, which most rockets use for fuel. The NASA guy CBS interviewed had a vision of miniature space stations orbiting asteroids that would serve as the space equivalent of gas stations for long-range spaceflights, but who knows how viable that is.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday June 20, 2014 @01:53PM (#47283291)

    Assuming the "pile of rubble" is pretty much solid iron, a six meter pile masses around 860 tons.

    Which would give the "pile of rubble" about 6 micro-G surface acceleration.

    Which, effectively, means it's a bunch of rocks falling in the same direction at the same place....

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