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Fancy a jaunt to a space rock? Here's how it would look

An astronaut tinkers with the protective sheet covering a captured asteroid. Credit:

An astronaut tinkers with the protective sheet covering a captured asteroid. Credit:


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, August 24, 2013, 7:16 -

NASA's asteroid plan to capture an asteroid and return it to Earth is a little less murky than it used to be, thanks to a new video released by the agency.

Here's the concept animation of how a jaunt to the nearest space rock would actually look:

Regrettably, it's not quite like "Armageddon" or even "Deep Impact," but when you think of the logistics, it's actually more impressive than science fiction.

Basically, the plan is to launch two astronauts aboard an Orion space capsule -- another piece of tech that's still in development -- on a nine-day trip to an asteroid, already in the hands of a robotic capture vehicle.

They'll spend another six days docked at the capture vehicle, then blast off back home, ten days away.

It looks spiffy, but NASA's still working out the details of how the operation will run. It's currently considering around 400 suggestions sent in from industry players, universities and the public, covering every aspect of the mission.

NASA telescopes keep an eye on the sky for space rocks at all times, but they can't catch all of them.

On the one hand, the astronomers correctly predicted when asteroid 2012 DA14 sped past Earth in February this year, coming closer to our planet than its own moon:

On the other, they didn't spot the Chelyabinsk meteor as it streaked through the skies above Russia the same day:

The shockwave from the meteor's explosion shattered thousands of windows in the Russian city, injuring more than a thousand people.

As for NASA's current astronaut retrieval plan, the optimistic  is to timeline is to launch the robotic capture craft, and manned mission, both within the next decade.

And in the skies above earth, plenty of severe weather to catch the eye. Check out some of the best videos sent in by our viewers.

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