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NASA mulls plan to drag asteroid to moon

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New Scientist

15:15 02 January 2013 by Jeff Hecht

For similar stories, visit the Spaceflight and Comets and Asteroids Topic Guides

Who says NASA has lost interest in the moon? Along with rumours of a hovering lunar base, there are reports that the agency is considering a proposal to capture an asteroid and drag it into the moon's orbit.

Researchers with the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California have confirmed that NASA is mulling over their plan to build a robotic spacecraft to grab a small asteroid and place it in high lunar orbit. The mission would cost about $2.6 billion – slightly more than NASA's Curiosity Mars rover – and could be completed by the 2020s.

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I love space exploration, but I think that kind of money could be better spent.

I realize it's just a proposal, and a lot of proposal are tossed-aside, but still.

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O.O DOITDOITDOIT! Asteroid mining, guys! ASTEROID MINING!

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Why not just land on the moon, sounds like a waste of money.

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I love space exploration, but I think that kind of money could be better spent.

I realize it's just a proposal, and a lot of proposal are tossed-aside, but still.

Why not just land on the moon, sounds like a waste of money.

Actually, if this went ahead, it could be one of the most important and far reaching things NASA ever does.

Hasina is close with her suggestion of mining, but with mining there is no need to bring the entire asteroid near to Earth, it would seem to make more economic sense to just bring the mined products back.

What does make economic sense is using small asteroids as space stations, or even large space ships. Even something as simple as the International Space Station took 13 years (indeed there are still modules which have not yet been launched) dozens of launches and many dangerous space walks to complete. How much simpler it would be to hollow out a small asteroid.

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I was reading that the Mars project side steps the space station and a lot of already functioning NASA systems and so they wouldn't benefit from funding, and will struggle with approval, I personally don't see the interest in the moon or messing about with Asteroids...there's talk that Mars might be teraformable (if that's a word) surely Mars is the bigger prize,

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I was reading that the Mars project side steps the space station and a lot of already functioning NASA systems and so they wouldn't benefit from funding, and will struggle with approval, I personally don't see the interest in the moon or messing about with Asteroids...there's talk that Mars might be teraformable (if that's a word) surely Mars is the bigger prize,

There is good reason to explore asteroids. There is a potential threat to Earth from them. The problem is that we don't know much about them. For a long time people thought that the best defence would be to fire nuclear weapons at them. Now it seems probable that some asteroids are conglomerate of loose material held together by gravity. Nuking them would result in multiple strikes on Earth and could be worse than doing nothing. The reality is we don't know for sure. Exploration of an asteroid by a manned mission could answer some of these questions and potentially save hundreds of millions of lives.

As for terraforming Mars, the technology to do that still only exists in the minds of science-fiction writers, it will be a long time before we can do that.

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When you mention potential apocalypse sure, that gets the attention and is always going to take a precedence

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Posted (edited)

When you mention potential apocalypse sure, that gets the attention and is always going to take a precedence

APOCALYPSE?! WHERE?!

I was thinking along the lines of a Ben Bova book. Dan Randolph, maverick company man, decides it's time to start minning the asteroids. So in a publicity stunt to prove it's possible, he snags a rock, drags it back home to orbit and chisels away and... PROFIT! Which then opens the door to the mass mining operations in the asteroid belt ad my favorite books of the Grand Tour Saga.

Edited by Hasina

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APOCALYPSE?! WHERE?!

I was thinking along the lines of a Ben Bova book. Dan Randolph, maverick company man, decides it's time to start minning the asteroids. So in a publicity stunt to prove it's possible, he snags a rock, drags it back home to orbit and chisels away and... PROFIT! Which then opens the door to the mass mining operations in the asteroid belt ad my favorite books of the Grand Tour Saga.

I hope its better than the last one where ever it is..... ;)

seriously I did rethink after reading Dwarfs post, Asteroids could tell us a lot for instance if the building blocks of life did come to earth on them etc etc but mining in space is probably going to be what drives exploration and the potential profits, (does that seem sad to you..it does me slightly but hey) but if its anything like red dwarf where do I sign

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I hope its better than the last one where ever it is..... ;)

seriously I did rethink after reading Dwarfs post, Asteroids could tell us a lot for instance if the building blocks of life did come to earth on them etc etc but mining in space is probably going to be what drives exploration and the potential profits, (does that seem sad to you..it does me slightly but hey) but if its anything like red dwarf where do I sign

If profit is what gets us off this rock, then profit, profit, profit.

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If profit is what gets us off this rock, then profit, profit, profit.

I'll be the one carrying the pick <_<

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I can never remember the name of that asteroid that has $23 trillion worth of gold on it... I know Amun 3554 is worth about $20 trillion in Iron, Nickel and Cobalt.

But the problem with all such endeavours is the value and worth of doing it. Gold is valuable because Earth has so little of it (at least, accessible) therefore mining even a small asteroid could cause it's value to plummet, making it pointless to do. I know the asteroid I can never remember has more gold on it than has ever been mined on Earth, ever. That's a lot of gold. Not to mention the platinum and silver and other valuable minerals.

Still, I suppose companies could lie about how much they mined, keeping price high and selling it off little by little. Major space travel isn't going to happen unless decent propulsion systems and or hibernation systems are developed. So, until then, mining asteroids is the next step in space advancement.

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NASA will put it in a GIANT ziplock bag. So it's fresh when they get there.

Edited by ancient astronaut
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Rare "earth" metals may be more valuable to humanity than gold at the moment considering so much of modern technology relies on it. Having a massive source of some very hard to obtain rare metal may open up a whole new industry or make some energy producing idea viable.

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I f they can cut down the time to retrevie the astreoid I all for it but ten years is to long for such a mission.

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So let me get this straight, 10 years, 2.6 billion dollars to bring a rock to the moon that is only 22' 11 5/8" in diameter. I don't get it. What am I missing?

Whats the point? Once the pebble is there, then what? What will they do with it? Anyone?

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I thought gravity was required for orbit? Or is it a matter of the larger a body, the more orbit there is?

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Why don't we just bag isos?

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I wonder what the point of putting the rock in the moons orbit would be? Why do we need or want that to happen?

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Hmm man sees big rock in space man captures big rock man puts big rock in orbit big rock plummets to earth major city wiped out thousands dead hmm interesting. :unsure2:

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Seems like an idea just being tossed around now, but I think it has some potential.

I would imagine the point of getting an asteroid into orbit around the Moon would be to "contain" it. Then some undecided procedure carries out after. Maybe they'll send it to Earth's orbit to an orbiting mining station? Maybe they'll try and pull an Apollo/MSL style landing on the planet? That isn't the hard part, the hard part comes with harnessing and retrieving one of these bad boys haha.

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Sorry for double post, but what about if decades from now a reality show similar to Deadliest Catch or Gold Rush or something where they safely harness asteroids and bring them to mining station hahaha either they have a good season or not.

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The right rock would be useful. Sound like a good idea to me.

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Well at some point I think we would need to begin to build our ships in space. So mining an astroid may prove to be very benifical. Imagine being millions of miles away from earth, and having your starter go out on you. With the growning advances in 3D printing, I think its not such a far fetched notion to one day be able to fly to, capture, mine, smelt, and then build from astroids or satillites.

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