NASA is planning a robotic space mission that will land on a near-earth #Asteroid, then lift a rock from its surface and insert it into an orbit around our satellite -- the moon. Once on this orbit, astronauts sent from earth will analyze it and get a sample for additional studies on earth. This mission is planned to be put into practice in the year 2020. The project called, ¨Asteroid Redirect Mission¨ (ARM) is a project intended to enhance the advancement of new technologies and spaceflight capabilities useful for the mission to Mars in the 2030s.
Scientists are searching prospective asteroids and have categorized over 1,000 near-earth asteroids. From the already classified candidates, four have been chosen as possible targets. The study of asteroid targets continues, to date and scientists are gathering information about them, including their orbit, size, velocity and rotation. This data will be taken into account before deciding on the most viable target for this mission.
The robotic spacecraft will approach the targeted asteroid and with the aid of its optical imaging cameras it will locate the spot of descent. Upon descent, it will deploy a set of three legs that will place it on the surface of the asteroid and on top of the target boulder; with robotic arms, it will hook the rock and after lift up, the legs will secure the rock. The rock will be redirected in a stable orbit around the moon, and once there, will be the subject of study and sample collection by astronauts.
Security measures for the earth
It´s planned to select an asteroid with the mass and size that will not cause harm to earth in the future. The asteroid will also be placed in a retrograde orbit around the moon to diminish the chances of collision with the earth. In the event, the asteroid would be pulled by gravittional force of the earth, it will burn very quickly while entering the earth´s upper atmosphere.The asteroid redirect mission will also test the capabilities for defense, developing space techniques that allow to deflect threatening asteroids travelling to the earth.