MAY 08, 2017 9:51 AM PDT

Does our moon need a moon?


NASA is planning an Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) with the purpose of giving our moon its own moon in order to study and practice for future Mars missions. While NASA has yet to choose a target from the asteroid belt, there is one asteroid in particular which we have our eye on. 2008EV5, as it is named, mostly orbits between Earth and Venus and is a type C asteroid, which means it is carbonaceous, rocky, and metallic. But how would we actually kidnap this giant hulking space rock to become our moon's sidekick?

NASA would send a robot to land on and analyze the asteroid's surface. Next the robot would take its chances playing that awful arcade crane game in order to grab a huge bolder and bring it back into the moon's orbit around the Earth. Sure, there's a few more complicated steps involved in this heist, but watch the video to find out!

The significance of bringing an asteroid into our moon's orbit may not seem huge - but it is. All of our current space missions are Earth-reliant, meaning they can only survive for a matter of days or months without returning to Earth to resupply. If we could use an asteroid as a base for Mars and deeper missions into outer space, we would be able to save a lot of fuel and time. Exploring an asteroid could also help us better understand the conditions in which our universe formed, and potentially provide a commercial outlet for mining certain minerals without ripping up our own planet. But the most important aspect of ARM is that it gives us a practice run for how to redirect an asteroid's orbit - something which will be imperative within the next undecipherable yet inevitable amount of time when an asteroid is statistically scheduled to cross paths with Earth!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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