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The Big Bag Theory: NASA Wants to Catch an Asteroid - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

The Big Bag Theory: NASA Wants to Catch an Asteroid

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A little known milestone was reached during June of this year. It has to do with what are known as "Near Earth Objects." You may have missed it but don't be embarrassed. Let us hope that the objects miss earth as Neil Shaw discovers in this Ark La Tex in Depth Report.

    More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th so called Near Earth Object is asteroid 2013 MZ5 was first detected on the night of June 18 2013 by the Pan-Starrs telescope located in Hawaii. This NASA funded project searches for asteroids that could pose a dangerous collision with earth.  The majority of near earth objects are discovered by NASA but there are plenty of non government astronomical societies that track the movement asteroids.

  Locally star gazers of the Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Society gather at the Worley Observatory. Members scan the heavens for chunks of space rock tracking their size and movement. Terry Atwood is one of those members who keeps an eye on the sky.

He states "We observe that star at the predicted time and if it blinks out the asteroid has passed in front of the star. Tomorrow there could be news of some that is coming out of the glare of the sun that hasn't been seen. So we are always on the look out for it. The government as well as amateur astronomers constantly searching the skies to see if they discover earth crossing asteroids."

   Tracking asteroid movement is one thing. How to avoid a collision with danger is another challenge. NASA has actually developed a far out idea of astronomical proportion. It's named the Asteroid Redirect Concept. The idea is for astronauts deploy a robotic space craft that captures an asteroid in a giant bag. Not only to alter the course of the space rock but to gather samples for study.

 Sounds almost impossible. Almost is the key word here. The agency will host a technical workshop at the lunar and planetary institute in Houston Texas from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 to discuss studies responses and the potential for ideas to be incorporated into the mission concept. Virtual participation will be available to the public and details released at a later time. No worry for now no immediate deadly impact is foreseen. Unless someone who watches the sky make a new discovery.

 On a serious note in 2010 President Obama vowed to fund a program to place people on large asteroids. Thus far the idea has not achieved bi partisan support as House Republicans have  blocked funding awaiting further studies. And the rock captured by the bag idea would be more in order to mine minerals for expansion of an economic zone for mankind.

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