Catching an asteroid necessary for human survival

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

astronaut asteroid
“Houston, we’ve landed on the asteroid. Collecting samples now.”

NASA has dedicated tons of time, money, and energy into their Asteroid Redirect Mission, which aims to capture a flying space rock, haul it back to Earth, and study the object. It may sound next to impossible, but it’s basically the only hope humanity has for survival.

The thing is, we need resources to survive… but the Earth is running out of them fast. The only way we can really carry on with our population growth is to find a place that’s rich with resources. NASA scientists hope that by capturing asteroids and studying the materials they’re made of, they can find hints about how life began, how asteroids played a part, and how to protect Earth from these space rocks.

NASA plans on accomplishing its mission in one of two ways. Ideally, they’d like to send a spacecraft to intercept a speeding asteroid and tow it back to Earth before sending astronauts to collect samples from it. However, the more realistic plan is to capture a really tiny asteroid and haul it all the way home. The only problem with this plan is that smaller rocks are harder to spot in space.

According to researchers working on the Asteroid Redirect Mission, they’ve already identified dozens of potential targets after installing a special program used to detect ideal asteroids.

Images courtesy of NASA.