According to researchers from the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California, NASA is reportedly considering a plan to capture a near-Earth asteroid and have it dragged into our moon’s orbit. The asteroid is named 1999 AO10, and it reportedly weights 1.1 million-pounds. To make that happen, NASA will need to build a robotic spacecraft that is capable of dragging the said asteroid. 1999 AO10 has been reportedly chosen because of its scientific value and its near-Earth distance. The researchers estimate that the mission could cost more than NASA’s recent and successful Curiosity Mars expedition.
Around $2.6 billion could be spent for the mission, which is expected to be completed in the year 2020. But it won’t be a walk in the park. The mission will take half a year, and astronauts will have to be exposed to long-term radiation to get there – radiation that is beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field. If the asteroid makes it to the moon’s orbit, Robotic probes, or possibly even humans, can study the asteroid and its origins. The Obama administration has already confirmed that it wants to send astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid. Albeit the asteroid was not named, researchers believe it is the 1999 AO10.