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Working Group Reports and Presentations: AsteroidsThe study and utilization of asteroids will be an economical way to enable exploration of the solar system and extend human presence in space. There are thousands of near-earth objects (NEOs) that we will be able to reach. They offer resources, transportation, and exploration platforms, but also present a potential threat to civilization. Asteroids play a catastrophic role in the history of the Earth. Geological records indicate a regular history of massive impacts, which astronomical observations confirm is likely to continue with potentially devastating consequences. However, study and exploration of near earth asteroids can significantly increase advanced warning of an Earth impact, and potentially lead to the technology necessary to avert such a collision. Efforts to detect and prevent cataclysmic events would tend to foster and likely require international cooperation toward a unified goal of self-preservation. Exploration of asteroids will help us to understand our history and perhaps save our future. Besides the obvious and compelling scientific and security drivers for asteroid research and exploration, there are numerous engineering and industrial applications for near-term asteroid exploration. We have strong evidence that some asteroids are metal rich. Some are water and organic rich. They can be reached with a very low fuel cost compared to other solar system destinations. Once we reach them, there are efficient, simple extraction technologies available that would facilitate utilization. In addition, the costs of returning extracted resources from asteroids will be a fraction of the cost to return similar resources from the moon to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). These raw materials, extracted and shipped at relatively low cost, can be used to manufacture structures, fuel, and products which could be used to foster mankind s further exploration of the solar system. Asteroids also have the potential to offer transport to several destinations in the solar system. In addition to Mars and the Asteroid belt, it is possible to nudge the orbits of NEOs to provide convenient transport to other destinations. Resources to support life on these long voyages may be gathered from the host asteroid itself. As asteroids travel over a wide range of inclinations and ranges, they offer possible platforms to perform scientific investigations. These include unique vantage point observations of the sun and planets. These observations can help us to understand solar activity and space weather. They also afford us an opportunity to see how the earth looks from afar with different perspectives. When we look for planets outside of our solar system, these observations will help us to calibrate our data. Asteroids may also be used as platforms to support very long baseline interferometry with unprecedented angular resolutions.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Lewis, John (Arizona Univ. AZ, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
October 1, 2006
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the Next Generation Exploration Conference
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Meeting Information
Next Generation Exploration Conference(Moffett Field, CA)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20070008265Analytic PrimaryProceedings of the Next Generation Exploration Conference