NASA narrows 400 asteroid initiative ideas down to 96

5 Sep 2013

US space agency NASA has whittled 400 ideas about protecting Earth from asteroids and finding an asteroid humans can explore down to 96.

NASA put out the call for ideas in June. Now, what it regards as the most promising ideas provide the agency with new insight into how best to respond to asteroid threats and identify, capture and relocate a near-Earth asteroid for closer study.

The submissions from industry, universities, organisations and the public include ideas on how to decrease an asteroid’s spin, nudge it away from an Earth-bound path, collect samples to return to Earth, and create activities to increase public awareness of not only the threat asteroids pose, but the resources and scientific benefits they may offer.

Future Human

“This rich set of innovative ideas gathered from all over the world provides us with a great deal of information to factor into our plans moving forward,” said Robert Lightfoot, associate administrator for NASA. “We’re making great progress on formulating this mission, and we look forward to discussing further the responses we received to the RFI (request for information).”

NASA scientists, engineers and mission planners who are working on details of the asteroid initiative were involved in selecting the most promising ideas.

The agency now plans to hold a public workshop involving experts from inside and outside of NASA from 30 September-2 October to examine the 96 ideas.

The remaining ideas may be fed into planning for the asteroid initiative, NASA said.

Asteroid image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic