Near Earth Object Program

Number of asteroids discovered per year for the last 20 years

NASA’s Near Earth Object Program contains what may be its most important directive when humanity is considered: the observation and tracking of several different asteroids and comets that will pass near Earth, with 70 expected to pass by between May 14 and August 4, 2015 alone. Obviously one of these larger bodies impacting the Earth would be disastrous, with issues from tsunamis, earthquakes, climate change, and other possible effects. NASA has been tracking thousands of bodies with the possibility of hitting the Earth, but has--luckily for us--concluded that all of them so far will miss us by a wide margin, more than enough to be completely safe for us. Despite that, the fear is still very much there and has many on NASA’s staff concerned for the potential dangers of such an impact. With that comes the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Asteroid Redirect Mission

Moving a rock so heavy that it seems impossible to do. In space. Into orbit around the Moon. If this doesn’t sound ridiculous yet, you’re among friends. NASA believes that it has the ability to take a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a large sample (in the order of hundreds of tons) and send that sample into orbit around our Moon. While this is officially a project to study the characteristics of different asteroids and learn more about our past as well as the past of the Universe, there is always the potential here for asteroid redirects in the future that could be accomplished with the proving ground that is expected to occur in the 2020s. It is not at all an impossible pursuit to attempt to move such a large object in the eyes of NASA, and they may be all that stands between us and the universe when the time comes.

Copyright 2015 Kristian Snyder. All Rights Reserved. Follow me @kristian_snyder