Space & Astronomy
NASA plans to give the moon its own moon
By T.K. Randall
March 26, 2015 · 42 comments
The mission will see a spacecraft grab a boulder from an asteroid. Image Credit: NASA
Robotic grapples will be used to place a boulder from a large asteroid in to orbit around the moon.
NASA had been previously planning to snag an entire asteroid and bring it in to near-Earth orbit, but now it appears that this idea has been scrapped in favor of retrieving only a small piece of one and then placing it in to orbit around the moon instead.
The proposed mission would see a spacecraft fly to a nearby asteroid and use robotic grapples to pick up a boulder and relocate it. The exact target has yet to be determined however it is expected to be based on the object's size, rotation, shape and orbit.
Known as ARM (Asteroid Redirect Mission), the project is expected to cost somewhere around $12.5 billion and will launch in 2020. Once it arrives at the asteroid the spacecraft will spend several months searching for a good boulder to use before deploying its grapples.
One of the main goals of the mission will be to test what NASA calls "planetary defense techniques", methods that could one day be used to prevent an apocalyptic asteroid from hitting us.
The space agency is also hoping to launch a manned mission to the asteroid by 2025 with the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars at some point in the 2030s.
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