Our Moon To Get A Moon? New Mission Will Drag Asteroid Into Orbit

Our Moon To Get A Moon? New Mission Will Drag Asteroid Into Orbit

NASA has announced its new mission to put a small asteroid in orbit around the moon by 2025 - and it could help plans to explore Mars.

A little over two years ago, NASA raised the possibility of putting an asteroid in orbit around the moon. Now the space agency has announced it's launching a mission to do just that. On Dec 2020, scientists will send an unmanned, solar-powered rocket into space with a single task - snatch a 13-foot boulder from a nearby space rock and drag it into orbit around our moon. What's more, the mission isn't just to prove we can do it - it could prove invaluable for training astronauts on upcoming missions to Mars.

"It really gives us an opportunity to demonstrate capabilities we're going to need for future human missions beyond low-Earth orbit and then ultimately, to Mars," NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot told reporters. In a later statement, he added that "the option to retrieve a boulder from an asteroid will have a direct impact on planning for future human missions to deep space and begin a new era of spaceflight."

Now if you read our original 2013 story you may have noticed NASA was literally considering catching an asteroid in a bag and carting it to the moon. Sadly, that awesome plan won't be happening - the unmanned craft will grab a boulder with robotic arms instead. The new plan is estimated to be $100 million greater than the last - since bags are cheaper than robot arms - but the was ultimately chosen so NASA could test technologies essential for future planetary missions. Grabbing technologies and "soft landings", as Lightfoot put it, apparently can't be conducted using a giant sack.

Once the asteroid is in orbit around the moon, astronauts will fly to it for a secondary 2025 mission to document it and walk across its surface. Presumably that won't take long with a 13-foot boulder, and might look ridiculous with two astronauts standing on it at once. All the same, it could represent one of the biggest steps in space travel since the moon landing. The mission is projected to cost $1.25 billion plus the not-insignificant expense of actually sending a rocket into space.

Source: Fox News.

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Why do they need to walk around on a 13-foot rock?

Why does it need to be orbiting the moon before they walk around on it?

Yeah this isn't going to be happening.
With no disrespect to NASA, having a asteroid the size of a bus flying around won't enhance out knowledge of Mars or help us get to Mars.
They'll never survive the inevitable Senate sub-committee on expenses, and will get a budget of $1.50 for a Mars bar.

I'm fairly certain I did that in Kerbal Space Program once.

That's so Kerbal.

For some reason I think one or bunch of the NASA scientist was playing Kerbal and put an asteroid into orbit and was like dude we should totally do that in real life.

is that wise? i usually think asteroids should stay away from earth. we deffinitely shouldnt point one right at us.

My knee-jerk reaction is "WTF are you thinking?!?! You're going to kill us all!" Then I remember that people had that kind of reaction when the LHC was made.

Scientists must continue to science!

-Ezio-:
is that wise? i usually think asteroids should stay away from earth. we deffinitely shouldnt point one right at us.

It's 13 feet across the amount that would survive atmospheric re-entry would be little it's not a threat even if all of it hit the earth.

I'm not sure how I feel about our moon having a moon, and what's to stop Earth from stealing the asteroid, so we don't end up with two moons, the rock shooting off into space or cause it to come crashing back down?

I also know next to nothing about how space works, so if anybody can answer my question, I appreciate it.

"I just pictured the Earth screaming at the moon "What are you doing, this is my rock! I'm taking my rock and going home."

13 ft? What would be the gravitational force of a rock that small? Could a man stand on it without degrading its orbit? Should a larger object be used, one less affected by 80kg masses impacting its surface? And is NASA just dreaming? We haven't played around on the moon since 1972.

P-89 Scorpion:

-Ezio-:
is that wise? i usually think asteroids should stay away from earth. we deffinitely shouldnt point one right at us.

It's 13 feet across the amount that would survive atmospheric re-entry would be little it's not a threat even if all of it hit the earth.

oh. it's 13 ft? what's the point? we could probably just fly a 13 foot boulder up from earth?

-Ezio-:

oh. it's 13 ft? what's the point? we could probably just fly a 13 foot boulder up from earth?

„if the mountain will not come to mahomet mahomet must go to the mountain"
That's the ideea.They bring a piece of space near Earth, to study it via direct human interaction

But the first thing on my mind, was a rocket-steered asteriod weapon of mass desturction, waiting near Earth orbit for Moscow to say something rude...

13-feet would not survive a fall through the atmosphere, right?
Right???

Is my brain borked or is 13 feet a really small size...like, that's pretty much the equivalent of an intergalactic boogie board in the gran scheme of things.

But hey, NASA do what NASA want.

Give that moon a moon!

Aeshi:
I'm fairly certain I did that in Kerbal Space Program once.

Why do you think it was implemented in KSP?

What's this I am reading about walking on a 13 ft diameter rock? Has someone inventive something cool like artificial gravity or magnetic boots? Or, does NASA want to prove that Super Mario Galaxy physics exist? (It would suck if they do, but operate more on those of Mad Space, from Sonic Adventure 2.) In all seriousness, I think by "walking" they mean space walks with equipment like EMUs and the astronauts maybe just touching it with their feet for stability.

I want to know why they wish to put it in lunar obit, instead of nearer the Earth. As stated above, an asteroid that size would disappear in a brief light show if its obit decayed. Going too close does mean dealing with artificial satellites. Is the reason fuel limitations? Are they planning on getting some practice in for later exploring Phobos and Deimos? (Hint: Those aren't ideal places for teleportation experiments.)


We are destroying and polluting our system like there is no tomorrow!
It should be illegal, disturbing a peaceful rock going about it's vital business.
Think of the consequences, that rock could be the key to some future event as yet undreamed of!
I demand a ban on scientists!

Preserve space pristine! let kids look at stars tomorrow!
Preserve space pristine! let kids look at stars tomorrow!

..In all seriousness though, don't the entire mankind own the moon and asteroids and..space?
It would be great to achieve the kind of technology necessary to establish off-world colonies.

reverse_rpm:

-Ezio-:

oh. it's 13 ft? what's the point? we could probably just fly a 13 foot boulder up from earth?

„if the mountain will not come to mahomet mahomet must go to the mountain"
That's the ideea.They bring a piece of space near Earth, to study it via direct human interaction

But the first thing on my mind, was a rocket-steered asteriod weapon of mass desturction, waiting near Earth orbit for Moscow to say something rude...

13-feet would not survive a fall through the atmosphere, right?
Right???

it would if they wrap it in shuttle re-entry tiles.

Akisa:
For some reason I think one or bunch of the NASA scientist was playing Kerbal and put an asteroid into orbit and was like dude we should totally do that in real life.

It was the other way around. The Kerbal mission was inspired by Nasa's plan to redirect asteroids.

Well, on the plus side, it's probably won't change any weather patterns, but you really shouldn't be giving Magneto what he needs to create Asteroid M. It's just asking for a hundred nukes to be pointed straight down with impunity.

Personally, I'm just waiting for the whole thing to be completely overshadowed by a shirt.

FalloutJack:
Well, on the plus side, it's probably won't change any weather patterns, but you really shouldn't be giving Magneto what he needs to create Asteroid M. It's just asking for a hundred nukes to be pointed straight down with impunity.

If you can fit a hundred nukes on a thirteen-foot-wide rock, then you probably should be ruling the Earth.

Now watch...they take out the 13ft chunk of asteroid, which reduces its mass and throws the thing off its path in space. Eventually the bigger one hurtles directly to Earth and "BAM!", we all suffer a new Ice Age. Congratulations, NASA, you've kills us all; except the penguins and polar bears.

The Rogue Wolf:

FalloutJack:
Well, on the plus side, it's probably won't change any weather patterns, but you really shouldn't be giving Magneto what he needs to create Asteroid M. It's just asking for a hundred nukes to be pointed straight down with impunity.

If you can fit a hundred nukes on a thirteen-foot-wide rock, then you probably should be ruling the Earth.

Don't...tell...Peter Capaldi. Someone is likely to give it a shot.

How could this possibly go wrong...

Eclipse Dragon:
I'm not sure how I feel about our moon having a moon, and what's to stop Earth from stealing the asteroid, so we don't end up with two moons, the rock shooting off into space or cause it to come crashing back down?

I also know next to nothing about how space works, so if anybody can answer my question, I appreciate it.

"I just pictured the Earth screaming at the moon "What are you doing, this is my rock! I'm taking my rock and going home."

reverse_rpm:

13-feet would not survive a fall through the atmosphere, right?
Right???

A 13 foot rock wouldn't do anything if it hit us, it'd either bounce off or burn up in the atmosphere, we have rocks this size and smaller hitting us all the time with no effect.

-Ezio-:

oh. it's 13 ft? what's the point? we could probably just fly a 13 foot boulder up from earth?

That would defeat the point of the experiment which is two fold, first part is testing if we can accurately get to a small target and retrieve it, also allows us to test robotic technology that would be useful in getting to Mars. Second part is testing taking people to the small target, with a side effect of allowing us to learn more about Asteroids while we're up there. Yes we have done the landing on objects before, but that was 50+ years ago, we're a little rusty and this gives the current NASA a chance to brush up on it's landing skills with minimal risk

StorkV:
How could this possibly go wrong...

You could lose the robotic craft sent to retrieve the asteroid, something could go wrong with the ship taking the crew to the asteroid, and that's about it. It's too small to be any risk to us on earth in any way shape or form, hence why they picked such a small object.

Eclipse Dragon:
I'm not sure how I feel about our moon having a moon, and what's to stop Earth from stealing the asteroid, so we don't end up with two moons, the rock shooting off into space or cause it to come crashing back down?

I also know next to nothing about how space works, so if anybody can answer my question, I appreciate it.

"I just pictured the Earth screaming at the moon "What are you doing, this is my rock! I'm taking my rock and going home."

You should take this with a grain of salt, since I'm not an astrophysics major or anything like that.

We kind of already have this happening on a larger scale in the solar system. The Earth is orbiting the sun, the moon is orbiting the Earth, and the sun doesn't steal the moon from the Earth. A large part of that is due to the fact that at the moon's distance from the Earth, the effect of earth's gravity is just a lot stronger than that of the sun.

However, you have to remember that "orbiting" isn't quite as clean as it's made out to be in science class. For one, you don't just have the moon orbiting the Earth, they're actually orbiting each other, just from the Earth's perspective it looks like the moon is orbiting the Earth. If you were on the moon it'd look like the opposite (Despite the fact that its gravity is having a very minimal effect on the Earth).

And that's just when you're only considering two objects in exclusion of everything else, it gets way more complicated when you consider how many large objects there are in space each having a slight pull on everything else. Remember how hard it was for them to decide whether the solar system revolved around the earth or the sun. Contrary to the story that's usually told, not all of that was ignorance in bullheaded favor of the past ways, both sides were pretty convincing at a time (Stellar Parallax was what definitively proved it one way or the other, but don't ask me what that is)

Basically what my answer boils down to is: the moon will have a larger gravitational pull where they decide to orbit it, and it will kind of be orbiting the earth in a way at the same time.

I'm pretty sure that the Earth will have a substantial effect on the shape of the orbit though, it'll probably end up being wider on the side of the earth and narrower on the opposite side

I demand a bigger rock. I want to be able to see it orbiting the moon from backyard dammit... without a telescope

not a single xhibit meme? i know it's aged, but this is perfect!

yo dawg, i heard you look moons. so i put a moon around your moon so you moon while you moon!

hmm, needs work... but the framework has been laid.

and a few things to address...

1. why not just take an earth boulder up? because it costs $10,000 for every pound of matter they have to launch into space. a 13 foot boulder might not look like much, but that just increased the launch cost significantly. it apparently much cheaper to grab a nearby boulder.

2. crashing into earth? it would burn up before hitting the surface. or at least most of it would, and the remainder would probably break into smaller rocks.

3. gravitational pull? well, so i'm not 100% certain here, but I can't imagine a boulder that small having any effect on the moon's gravity or earth's tidal patterns. that was also my first thought, but then i read how small the damn thing is gonna be. that being said, if someone who sciences would like to science their math at me, i would be happy to interface with that information.

The only way this kind of mission is additive and viable is to literally go get an asteroid large enough to be mined for resources which would then be used to construct a permanent launch facility on the moon.

Grabbing a small asteroid for "science" makes very little sense, especially at this price tag.

Pr0:
The only way this kind of mission is additive and viable is to literally go get an asteroid large enough to be mined for resources which would then be used to construct a permanent launch facility on the moon.

Grabbing a small asteroid for "science" makes very little sense, especially at this price tag.

Yeeh. You're right. We're better off just going for the big dogs right away. Lets not practice or anything..

martyrdrebel27:
not a single xhibit meme? i know it's aged, but this is perfect!

yo dawg, i heard you look moons. so i put a moon around your moon so you moon while you moon!

hmm, needs work... but the framework has been laid.

Thank you Sir! I came here specifically to post an Xzibit meme but I see you have it covered

Scrythe:
Personally, I'm just waiting for the whole thing to be completely overshadowed by a shirt.

Yea, imagine what kinda fiasco that would be if they made contact with that comet I mean asteroid, and a person in mission control was wearing a hand crafted personalized shirt that *someone* might think was sexist. I mean, that's so silly and outside the realm of possibility we shouldn't even discuss it.

I'm not sure what the point of walking on the thing is. At 13 feet, it can't have a significant gravitational pull of its own; it's got to be like a walk on the exterior of a shuttle or station where the astronaut is somehow tethered, only with a rougher surface. (And probably one where magnets aren't an anchoring option, but I don't honestly know if that even plays into other space walks.)

That kind of has a ring of "because we can" to it. "Hey, we pulled a rock into lunar orbit! And then we walked on it! We make and walk on our own moons! Take that, nature!"

The Almighty Aardvark:
However, you have to remember that "orbiting" isn't quite as clean as it's made out to be in science class. For one, you don't just have the moon orbiting the Earth, they're actually orbiting each other, just from the Earth's perspective it looks like the moon is orbiting the Earth. If you were on the moon it'd look like the opposite (Despite the fact that its gravity is having a very minimal effect on the Earth).

It's true that the gravity of each object effects the other. But it's not true that the perspective is the same from both points of view.

The centre of gravity for the Earth-Moon system is located with-in the Earth. Hence, no matter where you look from, it appears that the Moon is orbiting the Earth. That includes from the moon. Just like Galileo could prove that the Earth was orbiting the Sun even though it "looked" like the Sun moved around us.

 

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