NASA opts to grab a boulder, not the whole asteroid

March 27, 2015 12:22 AM

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After an extended review, NASA has opted to forgo capturing a small asteroid as an interim step on the road to sending astronauts to Mars. Instead, the agency will focus on robotically plucking a sizable boulder from the surface of an asteroid and returning it to the vicinity of the moon for analysis by spacewalking astronauts in the mid 2020s, officials said Wednesday.

Agency managers said the mission will serve as a testbed for technologies needed for eventual deep space missions, give NASA astronauts experience interacting with another body, provide new insights into the birth and evolution of the solar system and shed light on what might be needed to someday di...

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