NASA has two missions on its way to different asteroids with a third set to launch in 2022. Here’s why the space agency is so interested in asteroids.
From a distance, asteroids do not work much more than one space sten, men NASA have good reasons to place them as high priority goals. There are currently more than 1.1 million identified and known asteroids. The overall figure for the solar system is expected to be much higher with new discoveries being made constantly.
Many people confuse asteroids, comets and meteorites or think they are all the same. Asteroids are rocky objects that vary in strange shapes. Some asteroids even have orbiting “lunar asteroids”, and all asteroids orbit the sun. A comet also orbits the sun, but is made of ice and dust. A meteorite is a small fragment of an asteroid or comet, and is called a meteor when it comes close to Earth.
Earth’s security, science and space resources are the three main reasons NASA is interested in asteroids. NASA has two active missions in space on its way to asteroids, DART and Lucy. The third mission, which is also on its way to an asteroid called Psyche, will be launched in 2022. These missions will help NASA not only understand how Earth was formed, but also help the space agency better understand asteroids that could collide. with the planet.
Rocky, life-giving, dangerous treasures
Every day, the planet is bombarded with tons of interplanetary material. Most of the incoming are very small and burn up in the atmosphere. Some that are large enough can be seen as falling meteors or meteor showers. A very small percentage of killer planetary asteroids, such as those that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, is on a very close collision road to Earth. The NASA DART mission will test how to protect Earth by impacting an asteroid with a spacecraft years or months in advance to slowly align its orbit and save the planet.
Asteroids are remaining fragments of when the solar system was formed. The cosmic material that did not accumulate to form planets or moons is still out there untouched for the last 4.5 billion years. The NASA Lucy mission travels to the Trojan asteroid near the giant Jupiter to take a closer look at asteroids. NASA says it will be like watching fossils billions of years old which can give humanity clues to the beginning of life.
Asteroids are also estimated to be worth billions of dollars in metals, volatiles and other materials. NASA’s Psyche mission will lead to the asteroid Psyche, rich in nickel and iron. The asteroid is thought to be the inner core of an early planet that had its outer layers blown off during violent cosmic collisions. The interest in space mining for oxygen, metals, rare elements, hydrogen for rocket fuel, water, helium and other useful elements is also a rapidly growing trend. Asteroids hold the secret behind life, are treasures of science and mining, and has the power to destroy planets and transform solar systems. This is not so strange NASA dedicates so many resources to studying them.
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