NASA has decided that it would be a fantastic idea to make more science fiction reality once again. Many of the resources on Earth are limited, so what do we do in the future when we run out? NASA hopes that its 2016 asteroid mission shall help with that slightly.
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Asteroids are the hundreds of thousands of leftovers from the formation of our solar system. They’re made up of a variety of metal, rock, dust, and ice. Learning to mine these materials could be a valuable way to gain new resources on Earth, and it could also be critical for the explorations of deep space.
NASA plans to launch OSIRIS-Rex in 2016. This mission will send a spacecraft to Bennu, an asteroid that was discovered in 1999. They want to study the asteroid using on-board equipment, but it will also collect samples to be returned to Earth for further study. NASA hopes that studying Bennu will not only help us to understand the composition of asteroids, but also teach us more about how they move through the solar system, so that potential impacts on Earth can be better predicted.
All that needs to be added to this mission are a bunch of robots that can communicate with each other, and a few brave men who monitor those machines and suddenly ‘I, Robot’ becomes reality. And not the crappy film version with Will Smith, but rather the short stories by Isaac Asimov.
This mission will essentially be the first asteroid mining mission, as samples of Bennu will be collected and brought back to Earth. Scientists believe that this will also be the first step in learning more about asteroids so that we can consider future commercial mining missions. OSIRIS-Rex will arrive at Bennu in 2018 with three spectrometers to look at the different materials found on the asteroid.