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    HomeTechNASA will chase down the smallest asteroid ever visited by a spacecraft

    NASA will chase down the smallest asteroid ever visited by a spacecraft


    That is what NEA Scout’s photo voltaic sail will seem like when deployed.


    A lot of the pleasure round NASA’s uncrewed Artemis I mission is about testing out the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as a precursor to sending individuals again to the moon. However Artemis I may also launch a nifty facet mission, the Close to-Earth Asteroid Scout spacecraft.

    NEA Scout is a dainty CubeSat and NASA says it would “chase down what is going to turn into the smallest asteroid ever to be visited by a spacecraft.” Its goal is 2020 GE, an asteroid smaller than a college bus. The area rock measures in at beneath 60 toes (18 meters). 

    Visiting a tiny asteroid is cool sufficient, however the way in which NEA Scout will get round is even cooler. “It would get there by unfurling a photo voltaic sail to harness photo voltaic radiation for propulsion, making this the company’s first deep area mission of its sort,” said NASA in a statement on Thursday.

    Photo voltaic sail expertise is a comparatively new frontier. The crusing metaphor is apt, although the tiny spacecraft depend on photon particles from the solar quite than wind. The Planetary Society launched a profitable demonstration of the tech with the LightSail 2 CubeSat in 2019.

    NEA Scout’s photo voltaic sail is constituted of super-thin plastic-coated aluminum and can unfurl to the dimensions of a racquetball courtroom. The CubeSat is concerning the measurement of a shoebox. 

    NASA plans to check 2020 GE and discover out if it is one strong object or a decent assortment of smaller rocks. “Though massive asteroids are of most concern from a planetary protection perspective, objects like 2020 GE are much more widespread and might pose a hazard to our planet, regardless of their smaller measurement,” said NEA Scout principal science investigator Julie Castillo-Rogez

    Artemis I is expected to launch this year, maybe as early as March or April. If all goes effectively, NEA Scout will look to fulfill up with its asteroid in late 2023. 

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