NASA wants to explore another asteroid with a new automatic probe
Space agency NASA is considering the launch of automatic probe to study another major Solar System asteroids - Pallas. According to the portal Space.com, the decision to send the unit to an object whose orbit lies approximately 2, 4 times farther from the Sun than the Earth, can be adopted by mid-April. If the mission received a preliminary name "Athena" is approved, it will become virtually a direct continuation of Dawn spacecraft mission, which ended last fall. Recall that last visited the asteroid belt of the solar system and studied the dwarf planets Ceres and Vesta.
Pallas having a diameter of 512 km, it is one of the largest asteroids in the solar system, and a size inferior to West. It was opened in 1802 and until the mid-19th century, considered a planet.
If in April, NASA will take a positive decision on funding a new research sending a probe to the asteroid, the actual launch of the mission could take place in August 2022. According to the available preliminary data, the Agency would like to use the gravitational manner to accelerate the spacecraft and its rapid delivery to the purpose of the study. To speed up the probe plan to use the gravitational field of Mars. With this probe could reach the asteroid Pallas about a year after launch.
asteroid Pallas actual image obtained using the Very Large Telescope (Very Large Telescope) ESO
The cost of the spacecraft Dawn mission was 467 million dollars. The new mission "Athena" is tentatively estimated at only 10 percent of this amount. The reason is that the task of the probe "Athena" will be confined to a brief visit asteroid Pallas. Approaching the object, the apparatus will carry out a detailed photographing its surface and will transmit data to the Earth. This, in fact, the whole mission. But, according to the mission development, this would be enough to assess the prospects for the use of further study of this object.
The weight of the probe, which serves to direct the palladium around 180 kg.
"The asteroid belt - the most suitable place for the use of smaller devices as objects for research there are many" - the words quoted planetologist from Arizona State University Joseph O'Rourke portal Space.com.
"We can not send them to each of the unit cost of half a billion dollars, so you should gain experience in the creation of small systems that can be used flexibly in research programs."
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