NASA shares updates about the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).
By Jonathan Stroud
Sept. 14. 2016, NASA held a press conference with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announcing updates for their Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). Scientists are currently studying near-Earth asteroids to determine a candidate to have its trajectory altered by the ARM spacecraft. The spacecraft will capture the boulder, bringing it into a stable orbit around the moon. NASA plans to have astronauts explore the asteroid in the mid-2020’s, utilizing their new Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft. Astronauts will return to Earth with samples that scientists hope will lead us to new discoveries and will advance NASA’s capabilities for our journey to Mars in the 2030s. The mission will also serve as a demonstration for the planetary defense techniques currently theorized to deflect an asteroid in order to protect Earth if needed.
Why is this cool
The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is cool because, until now, redirecting an asteroid and sending astronauts to an asteroid has solely been portrayed in science fiction. This ARM mission will bring more public awareness about asteroids and the potential lethal impact they could have on our species if a large enough one impacted Earth.
Why should I care
You should care about this because, as of right now, there is no tested way to ensure the redirection of an asteroid. The data and experiments gained from this mission will greatly benefit both future missions as well as the technology to potentially move a large asteroid with a trajectory for Earth.
According to NASA, there are currently four possible asteroids they could select, however scientists are hopeful that more will be discovered in the next few years. NASA scientists will extensively study the velocity, size, spin, and orbit of all the candidates before selecting a target for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).
The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is vital to the progress of the space agency’s mission to Mars because of the technology tested during the astronauts’ exploration of the multi-ton boulder. New equipment NASA will test includes: Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP), Trajectory and Navigation, New Spacesuits, Sample Collection and Containment Techniques, Rendezvous and Docking Capabilities.
Follow updates for NASA’s mission to Mars on social media by searching the hashtag “#JourneyToMars.”
Keep up the latest ARM mission updates and other space-related content at Journalists For Space.