Only a few near-Earth objects would fit NASA’s proposed guidelines for a manned mission to an asteroid. CREDIT: Emily Lakdawalla/Ted Stryk


Search for Near-Earth Asteroids Needs a Speed Boost

by Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 04 February 2013 Time: 07:17 AM ET

At the current rate that near-Earth asteroids are being detected, it will take astronomers 15 years to identify every one of significant size and even more than 10 times longer to characterize their materials, a new study suggests.

Astronomers should dramatically ramp up the sky surveys, not only to better prepare for threats to Earth but also to exploit asteroids’ contents, scientists say.

These asteroids could be mined one day for valuable metals such as platinum and cobalt, yet at the current rate it will take 190 years to characterize their materials, Charlie Beeson, a doctoral candidate in astronomy at Harvard University, told an audience last month at the 221st annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif.

Increasing the breadth of existing sky surveys and using an orbiting mission to search for asteroids could speed up the cosmic hunt, Beeson said.

Read more: Search for Near-Earth Asteroids Needs a Speed Boost |

Home           Top of page