Asteroid Mission Could Save the Planet
Just like in the movies, the earth might be toast by virtue of an asteroid by the year 2025. However, if President Barack Obama has his way, Bruce Willis and the crew from Armageddon will visit a massive hurling rock 15 years from now in a daunting mission 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.
In a panel discussion that followed Obama's 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.
"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. "The first time humans showed that we can make better decisions than the dinosaurs made 65 million years ago."