Why Space Agencies Are Rushing Towards Asteroids

July 13, 2018

Why are space agencies from around the world becoming more interested in going to asteroids, and bringing materials back? Cheddar's Pat Jones takes a look.

Video Text:

As you’re listening to me speak there’s a probe, hayabusa 2, poking and prodding an asteroid called Ryugu. The japanese space agency or jaxa’s mission intends to take samples of Ryugu and bring them back to earth. And it’s an increasingly common mission from space agencies around the world. JAXA, ESA and NASA have all done or are looking into doing more of the same.

So the question is why? Why are space agencies so interested in grabbing samples from asteroids and comets?

The answer is pretty simple.We want to know what asteroids and comets are made of for two reasons that we’ll focus on now. First we want to know what our options would be should Earth be in the pathway of an asteroid or comet hurtling through space.

And we don’t want it to wipe out an entire planet.

There’s a thought that we could sent a craft that could nudge the asteroid or comet even slightly over a period of years and that could push the object far enough off its trajectory enough to miss earth.

That would keep us here on earth safe and able to continue making our student loan payments.

However we’re not sure that plan would work because while we know the components of asteroids and comets are dust, rock, ice and metals but we’re not 100% sure in what ratio they exist.

The other reason space agencies are spending time and money probing asteroids and comets is essentially? To find out where life came from.

There’s a theory that suggest they were what helped seed life here on earth. The young earth endured a period of bombardment and some scientists believe asteroids and comets brought the biological requirements for life to develop once the surface cooled.

For hayabusa two, it’s expected to arrive back to earth in 2020 with the bits of the asteroid it has collected. Scientists will then have their chance to examine what comes back.

And then maybe we’ll get some answers to some very interesting questions.