A NASA attempt to capture an asteroid is in the works this week, and the space experts apparently have their sights set on a very particular asteroid by the name of 2011 MD. Compared to the size of a “deliver truck” at roughly 20 feet long, this foreign rock is said to be of great value to NASA in the hopes of studying one such foreign object and even bringing it to our very own moon. News Max provides the details on this space rock snagging endeavor this Thursday, June 19, 2014.
The NASA capture asteroid effort may still be a ways off, but experts at the national agency are thinking about a “prime candidate” for this special enterprise. Officials confirmed this week that they are considering trying to secure a very small asteroid — at least by usual space rock standards — that zoomed past planet Earth back in 2011.
According to the report, the asteroid wanted for study and exploration is only roughly 20 feet long said to be about the “size of a delivery truck.” One astronomer said that the foreign rock (aptly being called 2011 MD for the year in which it was traced) would be convenient enough to even fit in a storage unit.
“We might actually be able to put this asteroid in a garage," stated Northern Arizona University astronomer Michael Mommert.
It is still being determined whether this particular asteroid in the NASA capture attempt could actually be part of a much larger rock that simply cling close to one another and soar through space in a relatively secure formation. The manner in which agency experts intend to capture this “delivery truck” of an asteroid sounds like it is straight out of a science fiction novel — a high-tech claw that will ensnare it, then set it into a massive inflatable bag for special storage near the moon.
Space.com says that astronauts wouldn’t need to retrieve the giant rock right away either. The remote controlled claw-and-bag device would be manually moved to a solitary spot above our moon, waiting to be investigated and studied by expert on a mission in the not-too-distant-future. According to one NASA spokesperson, up to 10 rocks from space are being considered to be captured before 2025, and some others may be asteroids as well.
Most sights are intently set on 2011 MD at the moment; however, it's not alone. An alternative method of capturing an asteroid is also being considered — creating a much more massive aircraft that would actually retrieve the rock firsthand. Doing this method would likely require more time and energy, but would also allow NASA experts to actually utilize a bigger claw to pick up an even larger asteroid closer to the moon.
It has been confirmed that the national space agency will publicly announce which method (as well as asteroid) will be targeted for retrieval and study by the end of 2014. The earliest launch dates for this interesting and breakthrough space mission would be 2019, so we’re not talking about projects beyond many of our lifetimes. What do you think of this NASA capture asteroid effort? What secrets might the mysterious rocks in space tell us about our galaxy and beyond?