Scientists are working on a model of a spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the asteroid, docked to a mock-up of the spacecraft that will be used to capture an asteroid and bring it into a stable orbit near the moon.
“We’re working on the techniques and tools we might use someday to explore a small asteroid that was captured from an orbit around the sun and brought back by a robotic spacecraft to orbit around the moon,” said Stan Love, one of the astronauts.
“When it’s there, we can send people there to take samples and take a look at it up close. That’s our main task; we’re looking at tools we’d use for that, how we’d take those samples,” Love said.
One of the goals of visiting an asteroid will be to obtain a core sample that shows its layers, intact — such a sample could provide information on the age of the solar system and how it was formed.