HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – NASA is working on another unprecedented mission to investigate an asteroid.
WZDX News received a sneak preview of the awning for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout. This is the first mission that has ever used this type of sail to go anywhere.
It was created on Thursday for the first and only time. The next time it looks like it will be in space.
The small spaceship will make a round with the Space Launch System, dragging it around the moon and ending up near an asteroid we do not know much about gathering data.
The sail looks more or less like a giant aluminum foil kite. It's the length of a school bus and weighs only one pound.
"Remember, saran foil is coated with aluminum foil," said Principal Investigator Les Johnson. "Very, very light weight."
The sail is the thickness of a human hair and there is no rocket fuel, no fire …
"It reflects sunlight," Johnson said. "When the light is reflected off the sail, it pushes it and lets it move."
If the sail from the tiny spaceship does not seem hard enough, these guys have to sail it through space. It is something for which there is no instruction manual because it was never done.
The other half of the mission is finding out what we do not know about asteroids. It turns out that's a lot.
"We learn about the neighborhood!" Johnson said. "You hear a lot about these asteroids that are close to Earth, there are companies that talk about mining asteroids, and just basic research, what are these asteroids made of, how did they come from, how are they related to Earth?"
And since it is in the sun, the NEA Scout can sail on after its mission.
"It would be like taking a road trip with your friends and never having to accelerate," laughed Johnson. 19659003] Only this road trip ends with new knowledge about our solar system.
The spaceship is ready to take off with the SLS. The launch date for this is set for December next year.