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‘Take it to the Moon’: NASA plans to grab asteroid that just whizzed past Earth

Published time: June 21, 2014 11:08
Edited time: June 21, 2014 11:57
Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is set to capture an asteroid, haul it near the moon and have astronauts visit. The prime candidate is now in sight: a small asteroid “the size of a delivery truck” that whizzed about 7,600 miles above Earth in 2011.

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“We might be able to put this asteroid in a garage,” Northern Arizona University astronomer Michael Mommert, who studied the rock, told AP.

The asteroid is called 2011 MD.

The plan is to capture it with a giant claw or a giant inflatable bag, and the “truck” asteroid would be “parked” above the moon, ready for the astronauts to explore.

The second option being considered by NASA is sending a spacecraft to a much bigger asteroid, taking a boulder and bringing it to the moon for exploration.

The decision between the two options is set to be made by the end of the year, Michele Gates, program director for the asteroid mission, told AP.

The Moon (Reuters/Hyungwon Kang)

There are currently three candidates for each option, and NASA isn’t obliged to choose the final target until a year before the launch, with the latter planned for 2019.

Thursday’s press conference focused on 2011 MD due to the fact that it was examined by telescopes on Earth and the Spitzer Space Telescope three years ago. The observations demonstrated that it weighed around 100 tons, but is quite porous, with about two-thirds of empty space inside.

The robotic cost of the mission would be about $1.2 billion, Gates said. However, there is no exact estimate of the astronaut part, which is set to include a giant rocket.

Eventually, it is scheduled that 10 asteroids would be captured by the early 2020s, not all of them tiny.

Comments (23)

 

DS 15.07.2014 16:48

Grab a big one and drop it slowly on Florida so we can climb it to escape our horrible summer heat. 3 miles high by 12 miles long should do fine. Drop it on Lakeland where all the incestuous births have created brain-dead oxycodone addicts, and Tampa and Orlando's millions can cool off at 15,000'

 

Malcolm Chaddock 24.06.2014 20:21

I would love to see this advance but first I think it would be good to take care of a few things: US Empire GTFO of Everywhere. Close the bases, recall the fleets, become a neighbor among neighbors and use the resulting gain in net avalable funds to feed, clothe, educate and garantee the basic needs of every citizen. The rest could be spent on containing and disposing of nuclear materials and other poisons. Maybe after that somewhere we can fit in asteroid captures?

 

Pros Channel (ProWreck) 23.06.2014 22:51

Vera Gottlieb 22.06.2014 08:09

What a fortunate country - no problems and thus has money available to spend on such idiocies. But then, Americans have always been great at putting on shows.

  


Not necessarily. I suggest you read on a little bit more on this topic. You'd that learning to capture, and studying the asteroid is a lot more beneficial then you're aware of.

View all comments (23)
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