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Senate Dems favor allowing NASA to go ahead with asteroid capture plan
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Jul 18, 2013


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

U.S. Senate Democrats say a new bill would allow NASA to go ahead with its plan to lasso an asteroid as part of a future mission to send astronauts to Mars.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a former astronaut, contains authorizing language that would grant NASA more flexibility to consider various approaches to the Mars effort and the proposed asteroid mission, The Hill reported Thursday.

NASA's proposed asteroid "snatch" involves capturing an asteroid and dragging it into the moon's orbit where astronauts could explore it.

Nelson's $18.1 billion blueprint, which has the backing of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, is in line with spending levels proposed for NASA in an appropriations bill currently being debated in the Senate.

"While our spending plan this year is not as much we'd like NASA to have, it should provide the agency with the resources it needs to continue its mission to deep space and eventually Mars," Nelson said.

NASA has said it considers a successful asteroid mission as a major step toward President Obama's goal of putting men on Mars by the mid-2030s.

"This mission to identify, capture, redirect and sample a small asteroid would mark an unprecedented technological feat that will raise the bar of what humans can do in space," NASA said in its 2014 budget request.

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IRON AND ICE
Vesta Topography Map
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jul 17, 2013
This color-coded topography map from NASA's Dawn mission shows the giant asteroid Vesta in an equirectangular projection at 32 pixels per degree, relative to an ellipsoid of 177 miles by 177 miles by 142 miles (285 kilometers by 285 kilometers by 229 kilometers). The color scale extends from 13.96 miles (22.47 kilometers) below the surface in purple to 12.11 miles (19.48 kilometers) above ... read more


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