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NASA released new details on its proposed mission to divert a local asteroid into an accessible orbit today. The plan relies on a combination of already-launched proven hardware and some of the cutting edge technology still in development. The first step — picking and choosing a potential target — would be handled by the Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). WISE was an infrared telescope that launched in 2009 with a two-year mission to image 99% of the visible sky in infrared wavelengths.
Many of the small asteroids that would be potential capture targets are thought to contain minerals from the very early stages of the solar system’s formation, which means they’d be a useful means of investigating theories on how planets and planetoids form. The mission would stretch NASA’s unmanned capabilities for probes and satellites — a useful factor when discussing exploration of targets like Europa or Titan — and would serve as a test of the Orion capsule and SLS.
Read more and watch mission concept animation at ExtremeTech.com