Asteroids key to future Mars missions, says NASA

NASA’s new programme aims at planetary defence against asteroids

Published: Thursday 24 July 2014


If you think asteroids are merely leftovers from shattered planets, here is something to watch out for. The airless rocks, also known as planetoids or minor planets will now be helping astronauts to reach Mars.

NASA, under its new programme ‘Asteroid Redirect Mission’ plans to catch an asteroid, pull it into the moon’s orbit and send astronauts in 2020s to its location in order to study it.  “Over a thousand unique, ancient worlds are waiting for us to explore them and unlock their secrets. These near-Earth asteroids are easier to reach,” says NASA’s website.

The purpose of the mission, according to the international space agency, is for planetary defence, as the Earth has had instances of asteroid interference in very recent history. Scientists claim that in changing the orbit of an asteroid and studying its composition, Earth could protect itself from another asteroid crashing into its atmosphere.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission will enable the testing of these new technologies, which will provide NASA with the tools to prepare and launch a mission to mars by the 2030s. The expectations from his programme are very high.

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