NASA releases new imagery of asteroid mission

Aug 23, 2013
This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. Credit: NASA

(Phys.org) —NASA released Thursday new photos and video animations depicting the agency's planned mission to find, capture, redirect, and study a near-Earth asteroid. The images depict crew operations including the Orion spacecraft's trip to and rendezvous with the relocated asteroid, as well as astronauts maneuvering through a spacewalk to collect samples from the asteroid.

Part of President Obama's FY 2014 for NASA, the asteroid initiative capitalizes on activities across the agency's , space technology and science programs. NASA is enhancing its ongoing efforts to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for scientific investigation, and to find potentially and targets appropriate for capture and exploration.

The agency is creating an asteroid mission baseline concept to develop further in 2014 to help engineers establish more details about the mission. Meanwhile, engineers and scientists across the agency continue to evaluate several alternatives, as well as ideas from the public, for consideration throughout mission planning.

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Concept animation showing the crew operations on NASA's proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission. Credit: NASA

The asteroid initiative will incorporate advanced solar electric propulsion technology as a power source for spacecraft, offering greater flexibility to the spacecraft and mission planners. The mission also leverages the agency's progress on the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and other cutting-edge technology developments.

This concept image shows an astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid after it has been relocated to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system. Hundreds of rings are affixed to the asteroid capture bag, helping the astronaut carefully navigate the surface. Credit: NASA

In late July, NASA conducted its asteroid mission formulation review, which brought together agency leaders from across the country to examine internal studies proposing multiple concepts and alternatives for each phase of the mission, and assessed technical and programmatic aspects of the mission. Currently, NASA is assessing the more than 400 responses received to a request for information in which industry, universities and the public offered ideas for the initiative.

In this conceptual image, the two-person crew uses a translation boom to travel from the Orion spacecraft to the captured asteroid during a spacewalk. Credit: NASA

The agency will host a technical workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 to discuss those responses and the potential for ideas from them to be incorporated into the mission concept. Virtual participation will be available to the public. Participation details will be provided prior to the event.

Explore further: Nasa completes first internal review of concepts for asteroid redirect mission

More information: For more information on NASA's asteroid initiative, visit: www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative

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JamesG
2.6 / 5 (11) Aug 23, 2013
Pure foolishness. This is a total waste money which duplicates already planned efforts by private industry. It's time for NASA to get back to pure science and use space exploration funds facilitating commercial space efforts. They're already making small efforts in that direction and it seems to be working. It won't be long before local solar system space exploration will be done by entrepreneurs for a small percentage of the cost NASA would incur.
mynameiswes
3 / 5 (4) Aug 23, 2013
Technology in search of a mission. Every President makes bold statements about going to the moon or mars or some such inspirational space mission because the public likes to here it. Then more NASA budget cuts and waste from abandoned projects.

Since they plan to use a robotic capture vehicle, why not just leave the asteroid in orbit for another robot or drone which could be supervised by astronauts in the space station or from earth. They could inspect the asteroid remotely then have the robot return whatever sample that they wanted to examine on earth.

It would be a lot cheaper and much less risky and have the added benefit of demanding further breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics that the manned mission wouldn't.
rug
2.2 / 5 (10) Aug 23, 2013
@wes - Lets just put it this way. If you had a chance to study this asteroid in person or program a robot to do it for you, which would you choose? I think most people would choose to study it in person. It's the fascination with the ability to hold an object like this and realize you are look and holding a piece of the early solar system. That is something a robotic mission simply can't do.
Egleton
1.9 / 5 (8) Aug 23, 2013
Some people just can't join the dots.
The world's population doubles every 35 years.
We convert 10 units of oil energy into 1 unit of food energy on the fork.
In 35 years time the worlds population will be twice as big as it is now.
So where are we going to put them, exactly?
I hope that we can place all this valuable material at the legrange points.
The legrange points can hold more people than the Earth, by several orders of magnititude.
The alternative is WAR on a scale never before experienced on this planet.
The Limit to Growth curves (Business as Usual) are quite clear on this issue.
The surviving population will lead short lives with many offspring.
The moral imperitive is to make this thing work.
Or die trying.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Aug 23, 2013
Hell, they had the tech figured out as long ago as 1967 in 'You Only Live Twice'. Just use a Pac-Man style space ship to roll in there, munch up some yummy asteroids, fly where you want and regurgitate. Simple!
rug
2.1 / 5 (9) Aug 24, 2013
Simple? hmmmm guess you think rocket science is simple. Funny, most people use rocket science as an example of difficulty. "It's not rocket science." I'm sure you've hear that a few times. You know, when someone is trying to explain something to you over, and over, and over, and you're just not getting it. Like every day on here.

At least on here it sometimes is rocket science.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (8) Aug 24, 2013
alfie_null
5 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2013
Some people just can't join the dots.
The world's population doubles every 35 years.

I support the idea of a mission to capture an asteroid. It has a number of potential benefits, but relief for overpopulation is not one of them.

As distasteful is this might be to a bunch of technophiles, the solution to the population problem is not going to be based on technology. At least not this technology.

As if it were a petri dish, we can look at Earth and see places right now where growth is high and places where it isn't. The solution will involve figuring out why, and then figuring out how to deploy that knowledge.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2013
In 35 years time the worlds population will be twice as big as it is now.
So where are we going to put them, exactly?

Moving people (in bulk) off Earth is a pipe dream for now. We'd overkill the atmosphere with pollutants so badly if we ever tried to move a few k (let alone 100k, much less millions - MUCH, much less billions) into orbit.

Reality check: The stuff we currently could get to a Lagrange point is shoebox size. Your idea of moving people off-world sounds a lot like the guy in "War of the Worlds" that wants to build underground cities to resurrect humanity and fight the Martian invaders - but who has only gotten so far as digging a shallow depression in the mud.

There's no sustainable ecosphere that is suitable for us anywhere but Earth - and we don't yet know how to build an artificial one.
Off world colonies with biological humans (if ever) will be settled by few and then the reainder will be born there.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 24, 2013
The really interesting thing, for me, on such a mission would be: can we move an asteroid? I feel we need to start thinking about - and have a tried and tested method ready for - redirecting potential impact candidates. This is something the private sector certainly will never throw up.

(Unless someone is so good at it that they first move an asteroid INTO an impact position and then let the world pay for its removal. Now THERE's a business idea for the likes of the Mafia.)
Egleton
1 / 5 (7) Aug 24, 2013


Reality check: The stuff we currently could get to a Lagrange point is shoebox size.

There's no sustainable ecosphere that is suitable for us anywhere but Earth - and we don't yet know how to build an artificial one.
Off world colonies with biological humans (if ever) will be settled by few and then the reainder will be born there.

I am guessing that you wern't around in '73.
Dr Gerard K O'Neil et al presented to congress a fully worked out business plan to do just that. Congress decided to spend the nation's wealth bombing rice farmers in Vietnam.
(Oh. And they lost that war too.)
Orbital airships can lift material off planet for a couple of dollars a tonne. We wont be sending material. Just people.
Our choice is to do this thing or go to war.
And yes. We can build self contained habitats. Once we found out that the concrete of Habitat 1 was absorbing the oxygen and fixed that problem it was a success.
Egleton
1 / 5 (7) Aug 24, 2013
In '73 I was fighting a war in Africa. We lost. Civilizations collapse from the periphery inward. That collapse is happening in the USA now.
Our hope lies with Eurasia. They understand megga-death.
Protoplasmix
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 24, 2013
Pure foolishness. This is a total waste money

You do realize this planet would have no iron, gold, or precious metals on or near the surface were it not for the asteroids, right?
which duplicates already planned efforts by private industry

You mean that venture with billion dollar deep pockets?
That received thousands upon thousands of job applications?
And turned to crowd funding to see if there's interest in the endeavor?
To put up a quaint little pay-to-play telescope?
Go NASA! :)
philw1776
1 / 5 (6) Aug 24, 2013
This mission is simply justification for NASA's latest (X-33 VentureStar, Constellation) expensive waste of $ developing SLS and Orion, something that should be left to the private sector while NASA focuses on space science where it does well. The SLS/Orion is a jobs program for congressional district re-election. That $ would go far funding planetary and asteroid science missions, and sadly paying for Webb telescope mismanagement and over runs.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 24, 2013
Dr Gerard K O'Neil et al presented to congress a fully worked out business plan to do just that.

I know that plan. Presenting a plan and doing something are two things. In retrospect a lot of the details in O'Neils plan were incredibly naive and glossed over a lot of areas where no one had an idea how to accomplish it with buzzwords.
Our choice is to do this thing or go to war.

No. We have a lot of choices. Highly educated and reasonably wealthy nations tend not to have population growth. We can adopt "one child" policies. We can increase the availability of contraception methods to people who currently don't have them. We can start working against the insanity of some faiths that family planning is wrong.
Some of these are easier than others. Some of these are less desirable than others.
All of these are more desirable than war.
Protoplasmix
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 24, 2013
This mission is simply justification for NASA's latest … expensive waste of $ developing … something that should be left to the private sector … NASA …is a jobs program for congressional district re-election … sadly paying for … mismanagement and over runs.

There's enough gold, silver, and other precious metals in one choice asteroid to make the entire global economy a moot point. Stop dragging your knuckles already. Don't think like a Neanderthal.

Because the alternative is to wait for more to drop out of the sky on our heads. D'oh!

Nab a choice one NASA! Put an end to your budget woes forever!
Karlsbad
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2013
Why are no leaders concerned with exploring inside Olympus Mons? What about the hollow Moon? Somebody moved my cheese! It's really quite perturbing.

Perturbation of multiple Asteroid orbits should firstly be the driving win expected from many missions to the belt; and secondly, the acquisition of a statistical census of Asteroid composition minutiae. Taking control of Space instead of being dominated by it.

Also sprach Zarathustra's bones.