A new class of asteroid has been identified to help find one that can be towed closer to the Earth.
With NASA going forward with its plan to capture and tow an asteroid close enough so that a manned spacecraft can visit it, the search is now on for a potential candidate that is close enough to reach but that is moving slow enough so that its orbit can be manipulated. To aid in this effort, three engineers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland have devised a new identification system to locate asteroids deemed "easily retrievable".
Out of more than 10,000 known asteroids the team managed to come up with a list of 12. Measuring between 2 and 60 meters across, these candidate objects all pass within a close distance of the Earth and can be moved with relatively little effort. Their number one choice, asteroid 2006 RH120, could theoretically be placed in orbit by 2026.
"By looking through the catalog of known asteroids, aerospace engineers have identified 12 candidates that we could reach out and capture using existing rocket technology."
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