China Plans To Bring An Asteroid Down To Earth

Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 16:38

Chinese scientists have proposed an ambitious plan to take over a small near-Earth asteroid and transport it to Earth.

Chinese scientists believe this is not impossible to take over a small near-Earth asteroid and transport it to Earth, Tech Times reports.

Scientists believe taking an entire asteroid could provide an ample source of minerals of industrial and economic importance.

It could also improve current research into the origins of the solar system as well as the beginnings of water and life on Earth, while reducing the threat posed by near-Earth objects.

"Unlike missions to bring samples back, we aim to bring back a whole asteroid weighing several hundred tons, which could turn asteroids with a potential threat to Earth into usable resources," says Li Mingtao, researcher at the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Li and his team advanced the idea at a contest for future technologies held in Shenzhen, south of Guangdong Province in China.

As the asteroid nears the planet, the spacecraft activates a heat shield that will reduce the asteroid's velocity. This will prevent it from burning up as it penetrates the atmosphere of the Earth.

The spacecraft will then be directed toward an area with no human settlements where it is safe to land.

Huang Wei, chief engineer at an institute at the China Academy of Space Technology of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, believes the idea can bring in new developments in space exploration.

To address this issue, Li is collaborating with space engineers at the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Space Technology to develop a constellation of satellites with the specific objective of finding and analyzing near-Earth objects with a diameter of 32 feet.

The team also acknowledged that they need to design a heat shield that can significantly reduce the speed of the asteroid from 7.7 miles per second to 459 feet per second.

Li and his team are currently eyeing a small asteroid around 62 million miles away. It is a little over 20 feet in diameter and likely weighs several hundred tons.

The team hopes to launch their plan into space by 2029 and bring a small asteroid down to Earth by 2034.

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