NASA has done it again. Or will do. Maybe.
To their credit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration sports a hefty 54 year resume of boring old activities such as: landing on the moon (or not?), dramatically influencing technology, launching numerous manned and unmanned masses of flame propelled metal into space, and consistently planning missions that only psychedelic drug users and post doctoral rocket scientists could dream up. This time it appears that NASA has just about outdone themselves ( ( (IN SPACE) ) ).
Using a cleverly named “Space Exploration Vehicle“, astronauts will dock with a near earth asteroid. Once attached, (then called) astroidnauts will conduct a variety of experiments. Seth Borenstein from the Huffington Post writes:
NASA is thinking about jetpacks, tethers, bungees, nets and spiderwebs to allow explorers to float just above the surface of it while attached to a smaller mini-spaceship.
JET PACKS! Sign me up. Borenstein goes on to say:
It would take half a year to reach an asteroid, based on current possible targets. The deep space propulsion system to fly such a distance isn’t perfected yet. Football-field-sized solar panels would help, meaning the entire mothership complex would be fairly large. It would have to protect the space travelers from killer solar and cosmic ray bursts. And, they would need a crew capsule, maybe two, for traveling between the asteroid complex and Earth.
That’s right science! Start the inventing NOW!
There is even speculation on plans to tow an asteroid into orbit between Earth and the Moon. They’re probably wrong as even NASA failed to comment on such claims but speculation leads to inquiry and inquiry leads to paper work and paper work, as many of you know very well, leads to bypasses and bypasses have to be built.
WHY, IN THE WOR.. er.. SOLAR SYSTEM, IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Studying the asteroid is likely to lead to a greater understanding of the creation of our solar system. Many asteroids are considered to be the last remains of debris from the birth of our dear mother Solaris. Questions such as “Why?” might even be answered.
It’s pretty important to know your neighbors. I’ve had some crazy ones. You know the type, the ones that sound like they’re speaking some form of goat language and have a garage, driveway, and lawn filled with “started-project-debris.” Well The earth’s neighbors are sort of like this too. There hard to follow, hard to find, could and have totally wreaked havoc upon all of earth’s systems, and we don’t know about a lot of them. Dr. David Rabinowitz, of Yale University says that up to 1000 of these neighbors are about a kilometer or larger in diameter. Kinda Scary.
Oh and then there’s all the technology that is inspired by NASA. With every new mission comes a wave of new gizmos and gadgets to make it possible. This feeds our global economy as companies around the world compete for NASA bids.
This mission is considered by some to be a major leg on the space road to mars and in general the preservation of the human race. Humans as a race have a lot of work cut out in order to survive the ever looming explosion of the Sun. Admittedly it is a bit far off. We’ve got around 5 billion years to come to terms with the death of everything we’ve come to love. On the happy side it is likely that the asteroid visit will aid in cultivating further deep space (9) exploration.
NASA plans for this mission to go down in 2025.