Slideshow

In Pictures: NASA’s ambitious asteroid grabbing mission

NASA is developing plans for space mission to visit an asteroid

  • NASA's FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid weighing about 500 tons and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. The mission is still in the early planning stages and NASA will host a workshop at the end of September to discuss potential approaches. Here’s a look at what the agency is planning so far.

  • At the same time of the RFI, NASA also issued the latest in its series of Grand Challenges where it dares public and private partnerships to come up with a unique solution to a very tough problem. The asteroid challenge will be a large-scale project "focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats," according to NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver pictured here. The challenge will involve a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists, NASA said.

  • The Orion spacecraft would be the primary ship used in the asteroid mission. Once in space, the crew would set off on about a nine-day ride to the asteroid.

  • 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.

  • Another conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle.

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

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

  • This 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.

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