NASA has finally decided to try to do something about dangerous asteroids that may be headed for Earth. They have announced a new "Grand Challenge" to find all dangerous space rocks and figure out how to stop them. But not all asteroids are killers, so how do you identify the ones that are? And if you determine that one of them is a menace to life on our planet, what do you DO about it?
NASA has a plan to capture an asteroid, pull it in toward the moon and send astronauts to visit it. Congress is on a cost-cutting mission right now,but NASA officials say they're confident they'll win congressional support once they explain "Challenge's" benefits.
NASA's Lori Garver says, ""This initiative takes nothing from the other valuable work. This is only a small piece of our overall strategy, but it is an integral piece. It takes nothing from the moon (budget)."
Researcher Tom Kalil says, "If, some day, humanity discovers an asteroid headed for Earth and manages to alter its course, it will be one of the most important accomplishments in human history." It will, indeed, if it saves us from extinction.
The video from Gingin Observatory in Australia shows Asteroid 2012 DA14 during its record close approach on February 15, 2013. The asteroid was discovered only a year earlier, which illustrates the challenge faced when attempting to intercept these objects. Just 16 hours before DA14's flyby, the Chelyabinsk Meteor struck Russia, causing extensive damage. The two objects were not believed to be related because they had different orbits. There was no warning at all of the approach of the meteor.
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