NASA is planning a mission to capture and study asteroids

NASA is planning a mission to capture and study asteroids

NASA is planning a mission to capture and study asteroids

According to the official NASA portal, the agency is working on the world's first robotic mission, which can visit a large near-Earth asteroid.  The mission's goal is to visit the asteroid, remove a multi-ton boulder from its surface and redirect it into a stable orbit around the Moon.  Once it is delivered to its destination, the astronauts will begin researching it and return with samples by 2020.  The Asteroid Redirect Mission (IPA, org. Asteroid Redirect Mission / ARM) is part of NASA's plan to develop new technologies and gain spaceflight experience needed for missions to Mars involving people in 2030.

 NASA has already selected several candidate asteroids and the search is on.  Since the announcement of the Asteroid Initiative in 2013, the NASA Near-Earth Observation Program has cataloged more than a thousand near-Earth asteroids discovered by various search teams.  Now four of them might be suitable for an IPA.  Scientists predict that even more celestial bodies will be discovered in the next few years.  NASA will study their motion, orbits, sizes and rotation before choosing the final target for the MPA.

 The Asteroid Redirect Mission is part of NASA's Asteroid Initiative.  It also includes the Great Asteroid Challenge (Asteroid Grand Challenge), designed to accelerate the discovery of potentially hazardous asteroids through non-traditional collaborations and partnerships.  This test can additionally help determine suitable candidates for MPA.

 NASA plans to launch a robotic spacecraft to the MPA later this decade.  The ship would need to hook a giant boulder to the asteroid's surface using a robotic arm.  After that, the aircraft will redirect it into a stable orbit around the Moon, which is called a distant retrograde orbit (origin. Distant retrograde orbit).  Astronauts from the Orion spacecraft launched with the help of a space rocket launch system (origin. Space Launch System / SLS) , which will begin research on the asteroid in the mid-2020s.

 Asteroids are residual material after the formation of the Solar System.  Astronauts will return to Earth with a much larger number of samples than they have been able to study so far, leading to new scientific discoveries about the formation of the Solar System and the origins of life on Earth.

 In addition, the robotic mission is designed to demonstrate planetary defense capabilities to repel dangerous asteroids and protect Earth in the future.  NASA will select an asteroid to capture the size and mass that will not harm our planet, as it will burn up in the atmosphere.  Scientists will also be confident that the selected orbit will be fairly stable and that when the asteroid moves with it, it will not collide with Earth.

 And yet, more importantly, the IPA will greatly help NASA move forward in terms of flights to Mars, as the program will test technologies needed for a team mission to the Red Planet in 2030.
Source: thetimeshub

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