NASA to Launch Robotic Mission To Collect And Redirect Asteroid Boulders in 2020
Asteroids are usually seen outside the Earth, sometimes even with just the naked eye. And because it can easily be found, NASA is developing a study where robotic arms will collect and redirect the orbits of known asteroids so scientists can further study their nature and even take samples to be brought back to Earth.
NASA is currently engaged in their first-ever robotic mission to visit a near-Earth object, the asteroids. The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will use robotic arms to reach asteroid boulders. ARM will "collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon. Once it's there, astronauts will explore it and return with samples in the 2020s" said NASA in a report.
The ARM project is again dedicated to advance human missions and spaceflight technology for the Journey to Mars in 2030. There are currently 1,000 asteroids near Earth which are candidates for the ARM project. ARM will capture a large boulder and redirect its orbit around the moon in a process called 'Distant Retrogate Orbit'.
This technology "will greatly advance NASA's human path to Mars, testing the capabilities needed for future crewed missions to the Red Planet" said NASA in another report.
NASA also added that ARM will greatly help in developing new technologies that will aid their mission to Mars since it is projected to last for 500 days at a time. "This new technology will help send the large amounts of cargo, habitats and propellant to Mars in advance of a human mission" NASA added.
Through this technology, the Orion Spacecraft will gather asteroid samples from the redirected boulders and bring them back to Earth. Being the building blocks of the Solar System, scientists believe that they can help man understand the composition of asteroids.
NASA is also looking at near-approach to objects outside the space craft. They said it will greatly help them develop their new space suits with enhanced sensors.