NASA Details 2020s Asteroid Capture Mission

March 30, 2015 8:01 PM

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Since 2012, NASA has been trying to figure out how to capture an asteroid and bring it back to Earth. This is a good idea for a bunch of reasons, but there are two big ones (according to NASA). First, the mission will help develop technologies that could be used to redirect an asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth. And, second, snagging an asteroid and dragging it into lunar orbit so a manned spacecraft can poke around it will be a useful way to prepare humans for deep-space travel, eventually, to Mars.

NASA's original idea was to go out and find a near-Earth asteroid with a diameter of about 8 meters and a mass of about 500 metric tons, which, for the record, is not big enough to make it through Earth’s atmosphere intact. Once the spacecraft got to this asteroid, it would capture it inside a giant...

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