Robotics and advanced SEP technologies like this artist's concept of an SEP-based spacecraft could one day find, rendezvous with, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable point in the lunar vicinity.
Robotics and advanced SEP technologies like this artist’s concept of an SEP-based spacecraft could one day find, rendezvous with, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable point in the lunar vicinity.

By Suzanne Presto – WASHINGTON — Asteroids – those millions of chunks of space rock, large and small, that drift and spin across our solar system – hold promise for space explorers even as they pose a threat to us on Earth.

When NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discussed the U.S. space agency’s proposed 2014 budget with lawmakers in late April, he highlighted a new mission – a plan to capture an asteroid in deep space and bring it to the vicinity of the moon, where astronauts could later explore it.

“We are developing a process or technology that will come forward in the asteroid retrieval mission that will demonstrate that humans can, in fact, alter the path of an asteroid that’s headed toward Earth,” he said.

A key part of the planned mission, Bolden underscored, is to show that an asteroid’s path can be diverted.

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