NASA has released new photos and video animations depicting the agency’s planned mission to find,capture,redirect,and study a near-Earth asteroid.
The images depict crew operations including the Orion spacecraft’s trip to and rendezvous with the relocated asteroid,as well as astronauts manoeuvring through a spacewalk to collect samples from the asteroid.
Part of US President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for NASA,the asteroid initiative capitalises on activities across the agency’s human exploration,space technology and science programmes,NASA said in a statement.
NASA is enhancing its ongoing efforts to identify and characterise near-Earth objects for scientific investigation,and to find potentially hazardous asteroids and targets appropriate for capture and exploration.
The agency is creating an asteroid mission baseline concept to develop further in 2014 to help engineers establish more details about the mission.
Meanwhile,engineers and scientists across the agency continue to evaluate several alternatives,as well as ideas from the public,for consideration throughout mission planning.
The asteroid initiative will incorporate advanced solar electric propulsion technology as a power source for spacecraft,offering greater flexibility to the spacecraft and mission planners.
The mission also leverages the agency’s progress on the Space Launch System rocket,Orion spacecraft and other cutting-edge technology developments.
In July,NASA conducted its asteroid mission formulation review,which brought together agency leaders from across the US to examine internal studies proposing multiple concepts and alternatives for each phase of the mission,and assessed technical and programmatic aspects of the mission.