Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NASA sending robotic spacecraft to asteroid in 2016

In an effort to help scientists discover how life began, NASA announced on Wednesday that it's working to send a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016.

The $800 million mission, which will call on a robot to collect pieces of the asteroid (see NASA illustration), will be the first U.S. mission to carry asteroid samples back to Earth.
Expected to launch in 2016, the spacecraft is scheduled to reach the asteroid (dubbed 1999 RQ36) by 2020 and then return to Earth in 2023.

"This is a critical step in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama to extend our reach beyond low-Earth orbit and explore into deep space," said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, in a written statement. "It's robotic missions like these that will pave the way for future human space missions to an asteroid and other deep space destinations."

"This asteroid is a time capsule from the birth of our solar system and ushers in a new era of planetary exploration," Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a written statement. "The knowledge from the mission also will help us to develop methods to better track the orbits of asteroids."

Source: computerworld


  1. Glad to see NASA is getting the funding it needs. It was starting to be cut.