NASA announced a plan on Wednesday regarding a future mission to change the trajectory of an asteroid. The mission may have the potential to protect Earth from an impending asteroid impact in the future.
NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission or ARM, scheduled for the mid-2020's, involves sending a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid passing by Earth.
The robot will then do a series of fly-by optical surveys of the asteroid surface.
The robot would then land on the asteroid for the boulder collection portion of the mission which would last about 10 minutes.
After pushing away from the asteroid and three days of analysing the boulder, it will begin the planetary defense portion of the mission.
Using the gravitational attraction between the spacecraft and boulder, they will attempt to deflect the asteroid, a process they call Enhanced Gravity Tractor.
It will then take about six years for the robot to return to lunar orbit where astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft will dock with the robot to further study the boulder.
The current concept for the manned portion of ARM involves two-astronauts and is expected to take take about three-and-a-half weeks.
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