The Plan to Bring an Asteroid to Earth

Send a robot into space. Grab an asteroid. Bring it back to Earth’s orbit.

This may sound like a crazy plan, but it relates to the feasibility and requirements of capturing a near-Earth asteroid, bringing it closer to our planet and using it as a base for future manned spaceflight missions.

This is not something scientists are imagining could be done some day off in the future. This is possible with the technology we have today and could be accomplished within a decade.

A robotic probe could anchor to an asteroid made mostly of nickel-iron with simple magnets or grab a rocky asteroid with a harpoon or specialized claws and then push the asteroid using solar-electric propulsion. For asteroids too big for a robot to handle, a large spacecraft could fly near the object to act as a gravity tractor that deflects the asteroid’s trajectory, sending it toward Earth. Learn more here.

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