NASA's New Asteroid Mission Could Save the Planet
President Barack Obama set a lofty next goal this week for Americans in space: Visiting an asteroid by 2025. But reaching a space rock in a mere 15 years is a daunting mission, and one that might also carry the ultimate safety of the planet on its shoulders.
"It is probably the hardest thing we can do because the asteroid is not coming on a schedule," NASA chief Charles Bolden told reporters late Thursday after Obama announced his space vision.
And when a specific asteroid is eventually selected, the window to launch a spaceship toward it will be much less forgiving than the windows for NASA space shuttles bound for the International Space Station, Bolden said.
"The space station gives us five minutes," he explained. "I'm not sure what an asteroid gives us, but then it doesn't come again for a lifetime."
And there's another compelling reason for touching an asteroid: Saving the planet.
In a panel discussion that followed President Obama's Thursday space vision speech, astrophysicist John Grunsfeld -- a former NASA astronaut who flew on five shuttle missions -- suggested sending humans to purposely move an asteroid, to nudge the space rock to change its trajectory. Such a feat, he said, would show that humanity could deflect a space rock if one threatened to crash into the planet.
"By going to a near-Earth object, an asteroid, and perhaps even modifying its trajectory slightly, we would demonstrate a hallmark in human history," said Grunsfeld, who flew on three shuttle missions to fix the Hubble Space Telescope. "The first time humans showed that we can make better decisions than the dinosaurs made 65 million years ago."
p/s : Manusia.. mampu ke?