NASA Asteroid Retrieval Mission

This is an imaginary animation of a mission to retrieve an asteroid that has been proposed by NASA. It is unlikely to actually occur. It doesn’t make sense to spend the enormous amount of time and energy required to accomplish this, when it will be much easier to examine the asteroid where it already is. Whether the mission is robotic or manned seems mostly irrelevant. A remotely controlled robotic mission can accomplish most of what a manned mission can, but at a much lower cost. Time delay of communications is the biggest obstacle for robotic missions, but in this case, most work can proceed slowly with no urgency.

There are three primary interests in asteroids at the present time:

  1. Scientific – we want to know more about asteroids, exactly what they are made up of and how they were formed.
  2. Financial – space mining operations want the results from #1 so that they can better predict the value of asteroids from a distance, before undertaking to reach one and begin extracting valuable materials.
  3. Defensive – we need to know more about where asteroids are and be able to map their trajectories and predict future problems caused by intersects with the orbit of Earth.

None of these issues require towing an asteroid back to Earth to examine it here.

Animation Of Proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission | Video

NASA’s 2014 budget poposes a mission to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and bring it into a stable lunar orbit where astronauts can visit and explore it, a ‘stepping stone’ to future missions to farther asteroids.

SEE ALSO:
Asteroid Belt Economy
Time Lapse of Asteroid Discovery

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