NASA Pondering Mission to Study Asteroid

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — NASA says it is considering a mission to land a probe on an asteroid that could hit the Earth in two centuries to learn more about its possible path.

An analysis of the orbit of asteroid 1999 RQ36 says it will come closest to hitting Earth — scientists put the odds at 1-in-1,000 — in the year 2182, but researchers want to collect a sample of the rock to help forecast its trajectory more accurately, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.


If NASA approves the mission, the spacecraft would launch in 2016 to map out and collect rock samples from the 1,800-foot-wide asteroid.

The proposed mission, called OSIRIS-Rex, is one of two finalists competing for funding as part of the cash-strapped space agency’s New Frontiers program.

The other contender is a mission to land on Venus, and the competing proposals are being discussed at a NASA workshop in Washington that started Tuesday.

The winner will be announced next year.

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