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Plans afoot for snaring a space rock

2 Oct 2011, 19:37 UTC
Plans afoot for snaring a space rock
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Researchers at the Tsinghua University in Beijing recently published a plan just daring enough to work/make people nervous. After an extensive review of the orbits of thousands of candidate near-Earth objects, the research team headed by Associate Professor Baoyin Hexi identified a small asteroid that with a nudge at the opportune moment would settle into [...]

Trajectory of 2008EA9 before and after orbit maneuver. (Credit: Hexi et al., 2011)
Researchers at the Tsinghua University in Beijing recently published a plan just daring enough to work/make people nervous.
After an extensive review of the orbits of thousands of candidate near-Earth objects, the research team headed by Associate Professor Baoyin Hexi identified a small asteroid that with a nudge at the opportune moment would settle into a temporary Earth orbit.
The 410-meter-per-second-boost required to snare 30-foot-wide asteroid 2008EA9 is but a fraction of the propulsion cost required, for instance, for our spacecraft to get to low Earth orbit, (8,000 meters-per-second).
Attempting such a technical feat would be a boon for space logistics and exploration research by providing a simple, local target for investigation by astronauts. Further, the experience would exponentially improve our asteroid diversion know-how and spur the development of space resource/mining ...

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