20th July, 2021 Health
- NASA announced that its new spacecraft, named NEA Scout, has completed all required tests and has been safely tucked inside the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
What is NEA Scout?
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout, is a small spacecraft, about the size of a big shoebox.
- Its main mission is to fly by and collect data from a near-Earth asteroid.
- It will also be America’s first interplanetary mission using a special solar sail propulsion.
- The spacecraft will take about two years to cruise to the asteroid and will be about 93 million miles away from Earth during the asteroid encounter.
How will it study the asteroid?
- NEA Scout is equipped with special cameras and can take pictures ranging from 50 cm/pixels to 10 cm/pixels.
- It can also process the image and reduce the file sizes before sending them to the earth-based Deep Space Network via its medium-gain antenna.
- The images gathered by NEA Scout will provide critical information on the asteroid’s physical properties such as orbit, shape, volume, rotation, the dust and debris field surrounding it, plus its surface properties.
Why should we study near-Earth asteroids?
- Despite their size, some of these small asteroids could pose a threat to Earth.
- Understanding their properties could help us develop strategies for reducing the potential damage caused in the event of an impact.
- Scientists will use this data to determine what is required to reduce risk, increase effectiveness, and improve the design and operations of robotic and human space exploration.