Astronauts to land on `planet killer` asteroid

Last Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 14:46

London: NASA is training a team of astronauts to land on asteroids, which are three million miles from the Earth.
The mission, planned for the next decade, would land on an asteroid travelling at more than 50,000 miles an hour.

The astronauts will drive vehicles on the surface - and pick up skills necessary to destroy ‘planet killer’ asteroids that may approach our planet in future.

The journey to the asteroid and back could take up to a year, according to a newspaper.

Major Tim Peake, a former British Army helicopter pilot, and the first official British astronaut with the European Space Agency revealed details of the mission.

Peake and five other astronauts will prepare for the low-gravity environment of the asteroid by spending 12 days in an underwater base off the coast of Florida, 65 feet beneath the Atlantic.

They will live in a capsule 43 feet long by 20 feet wide to simulate the cramped conditions on an asteroid.

“With the technology we have available and are developing today, an asteroid mission of up to a year is definitely achievable,” Major Peake said in an interview in the Telegraph.

“These objects are also coming extremely close to Earth all the time, but we rarely hear about it. In the last year we had an asteroid come within Earth’s geostationary orbit, which is closer than some satellites.

“With enough warning we would probably send a robotic mission to deflect an asteroid, but if something is spotted late and is big enough we might come into Armageddon type scenarios where we may have to look at manned missions to deflect it,” he stated.

Peak added, “I would love to go on an asteroid mission. There is a possibility that if things continue at a good pace an asteroid mission could happen within the 2020s and that is within the operational time frame of myself and the other ESA astronauts.”


First Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 14:46

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