NASA Plans to Lasso Asteroid? Yippey Kiyay!!

English: Computer simulation of the heating of...

English: Computer simulation of the heating of a space shuttle orbiter upon reentry. Temperatures on the exterior of the shuttle can reach during this phase of flight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay…before I launch into an intra-cranial adventure starring Slim Pickens in cowboy regalia spinning a rope astride a mini-Space Shuttle (ala Dr. Stranglove), “lasso” was just a headline term from NPR. The real word is capture…but the rest of the headline is true: as part of its $17.7 Billion dollar budget, NASA has a line item to “capture” an asteroid. How do they plan to do it? Well the stratospheric thinkers of the Space Administration are going to put a collapsible rubber cone on the front of some sort of space vehicle then send it careening towards a previously identified asteroid. Once the asteroid hits the cone, the cone collapses around the asteroid like”instant shrink wrap” (that is a real NASA quote). Our scientists theorize that by snatching this rock out of the sky, and guiding it to the moon for future research, we’ll be gathering valuable information for future deep space flights. Like what sort of information? Well, they’re not really saying….and there’s the rub. See this whole cowboy drama about grabbing a hurtling mass and guiding it to the lunar surface is real….$2.2 Billion Dollars real. But the purpose is very flimsy, if it even exists. Perhaps they’ll be looking for petroglyphs from Dr. Smith of “Lost in Space” fame. Or maybe encapsulated hip-hop from the Big Boom Box Theory…or was that the Big Bang Theory…or is that a sitcom? Anyway, before I confuse myself any futher,  I’m thinking this is more of a “climb Mt. Everest” reason for doing something daring: “Because it’s there!”. Whatever, the reason….whatever the outcome…it’s comforting to know that the greatest minds in our government are spending their time on cogent, meaningful projects…like lassoing a rock in space, and leaving the trivial projects, like feeding the world, to less imaginative thinkers.

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