Saturday, October 8, 2011

NASA, Wanted Asteroid Busters, NASA has a Job for You, Become a D-RAT

If the thought of landing on an asteroid is your idea of a good time, NASA may have a job for you.

At a time of budget cuts, massive government debt and deficits why would NASA elevate this type of work.........Does NASA know something we don't!

In the Hollywood film Armageddon, Bruce Willis and a roughneck band of oil-rig workers were sent to destroy an asteroid on a deadly collision course with Earth.  The catastrophic scenes depicted in the film just may be less fiction…and more science reality; especially the rover-craft carried by the Space Shuttles, which were used for surface navigation.  However, the rover used in the movie may have been light on imagination. Scientists at NASA are focused on the development of high-tech and rugged gear to assist the intrepid asteroid cowboys.  To simulate the asteroid environment, the D-RATS (short for Desert Training Research and Technology Studies) are training in the Arizona desert.

Even among astronauts there are individuals whose imaginations and uber-adventuring souls go beyond human limits.  In space, they’re called D-RATS, short for Desert Research and Technology Studies.  If the thought of landing on an asteroid is your idea of a good time, NASA may have a job for you.  Just like in the movie, asteroid hunting promised to be a hazardous occupation.  In addition to the challenges of real-time communications, zero oxygen and the highly radioactive environment of space, asteroids have virtually no gravity.

According to NASA, it “recently made asteroid studies a priority. The Dawn mission to two of the largest asteroids in the solar system, Vesta and Ceres, is one example. A future mission called Osiris-Rex is to bring back pieces of an asteroid in 2016. The NEAR spacecraft, short for Near earth Asteroid Rendezvous, landed on the asteroid Eros in 2001 as it orbited 196 million miles from Earth, more than seven times farther away than the moon.

”Why then would NASA suddenly elevate the mission to land on an asteroid to priority status?  This decision has many speculating that NASA may feel a catastrophic collision may be more likely than previously thought.  In an era of tightening budgets, the escalation of this project to priority status raises that spectacle.

New observations by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, show there are significantly fewer near-Earth asteroids in the mid-size range than previously thought.  However, it appears NASA is not leaving this one to chance.
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