NASA on track to land spacecraft on an asteroid

05/20/2013 | Popular Science

The U.S. government has put its stamp of approval on a planned mission to scoop up soil samples from an asteroid that orbits so close to Earth that it has a 1 in 2,000 chance of hitting it sometime in the 22nd century. The mission to the Bennu asteroid is being planned by NASA and the University of Arizona for a 2016 launch date and would involve landing a spacecraft on the carbon rock, which has a diameter of more than 1,600 feet. If successful, the project could help NASA eventually direct an asteroid into the moon's orbit, allowing humans to land on it.

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