April 9, 2013
Extra! Extra! US Focuses On Asteroid Landing By 2021
I don’t know about you, but when I was a little girl, I thought nothing would be cooler than going into space. After reading Ray Bradbury’s book The Martian Chronicles, I was hooked. Space had my full attention. Then as I grew older and watched all the sci-fi movies and read all the sci-fi books, I just knew that we would see space exploration burgeon.
And recently redOrbit confirmed my excitement when it published an article about landing on an asteroid. Yep, you read that correctly. NASA has a plan in place for the asteroid landing, and they plan to succeed by 2021. So here’s the plan:
“NASA is reportedly planning to capture a small asteroid with a robotic spacecraft, and then move the space rock closer to Earth so that astronauts could travel there, analyze it and return home with samples…The mission would involve launching the robotic craft to an asteroid, capturing it and then pulling it to a location near our moon.”
That plan just fills me with excitement. I mean, isn’t this the kind of stuff NASA should be doing in the 21st century? As redOrbit explained, this mission would mark the first time that mankind ever attempted to manipulate space. NASA is going to move an asteroid out of its current trajectory and relocate it to near earth’s moon so that astronauts can more easily and safely land on it in order to study the space object.
If being an astronaut wasn’t cool before, this should grab the attention of little scientists all over the United States.
The project is closer to fruition because US President Barrack Obama is requesting approximately $100 million (USD) be added to NASA’s 2014 budget. About $78 million (USD) of that added money would develop technologies for the project while about $27 million (USD) would go to beefing up NASA’s asteroid-detection work. All of this would accomplish President Obama’s three-year old goal to send astronauts to an asteroid.
True, my scientific interests tend to be more in geology and nature and health than in space, but studying other planets and space objects like asteroids is kind of like geology and nature, only on another heavenly place. NASA would be able to take samples of the geological structure of the asteroid and learn about the nature of the space object. We can learn so much and perhaps find future possibilities in many areas of science because of this plan.
This is the kind of stuff that compels me to watch Matt Groening’s cartoon Futurama. How cool would it be to land on that asteroid much in the way that Fry, Leela, and Bender landed on the garbage asteroid in the episode, “A Big Piece of Garbage.” I mean, isn’t this kind of space travel and study part of the allure that people had in the 1970s when Star Wars: A New Hope first made its way into our hearts and minds? The new frontier and the space possibilities caught us, not to mention the plot and characters, but I would argue the former had more of a fascination.
This new space experiment is just so, well, exciting. I know I’ve used that word a bunch in this blog, but I can think of no better description. Yep, moving an asteroid in order to study it closer is definitely an exciting adventure. I can’t wait to watch this unfold!
Image Credit: iurii / Shutterstock