back to article Roboprobe spacecraft off to grope asteroid

NASA has announced it will send a roboprobe spacecraft to an asteroid to "pluck samples" from the near-Earth object and return them for perusal by ground-based boffins. The improbably-named "Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer", known as OSIRIS-REx to its chums, will launch in 2016 …

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Football fields

Ah, but presumably that's US football fields, not international standard football fields?

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Headmaster

Football..

..that would be 'pitches' , Association Football is played on a 'pitch'....

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Boffin

In any case...

... that should really be 974.45 nano Wales.

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Boffin

Except that

the nanoWales, football pitch, Belgium and Congo are units of area, where the size of this cosmic bit of rock is given as a *diameter* of 1900ft, or 4.188 brontosauruses (thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle, and thin again at the other end, thank you very much) (eeechhHUM).

Assuming a perfect sphere, the surface area of this object calculates to e a tick over 1.05 sq.km, which is 50.5 microWales, or just under 270 football pitches.

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Unhappy

It's just a bit sad...

If it takes 800 MILLION dollars to reach out to a 5-football-field sized dust-ball and grab 2 OUNCES of material for research, it is simply impossible to imagine the costs of Martian human settlements, Terrafirming of uninhabitable planets, Interstellar exploration and other fantastic possibilities. Who is going to put in the money for those kind of projects? I don't think that there is enough money in the world to spare for that kind of a thing, even if all the countries on the planet come together which is as improbable as my becoming the US president. It is simply sad to note that humanities leaps of progress will someday have to stop for a simple thing like "lack of enough paper".

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Almost got to Mars by 1978 and a permanent lunar base by 1981

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA

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It's just a bit sad

Cheer up. It isn't all that bad. Robert Zubrin (The Case for Mars) priced up getting to Mars, creating a manned base and - eventually - small-scale terafirming and it wasn't too bad by Space exploration standards.

Space travel etc only looks expensive because we are used to the heavily politicised NASA model - which is really more about creating jobs and votes than space exploration. Mars can be reached for a couple of tens of billion over ten years or so - peanuts really. The main sticking point - other than NASA - is getting past the problem the uneducated masses have with sending a small Nuclear power plant at the top of a launch stack.

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Go

Not so bad

For one tenth of the annual US defence (defense) budget, we could send a small team to set up the first Martian base. It's just political (and social) will, or lack thereof, that's stopping us. That's why I always, always push space exploration. We CAN do it.

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Oh do be quiet...

$800 Million is what some bunch of investors paid a little while ago for Jimmy Choo. Alternatively it's a good deal less than one months worth of dog food sales in the USA. If the world can afford slutty shoes and bow-chow it can afford space research.

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Boffin

Falling?

"Gravity on this asteroid is so weak, if you were on the surface, held your arm out straight and dropped a rock, it would take about half an hour for it to hit the ground"

I think we're safe to say that this is mutual gravitational attraction rather than what we generally perceive as falling.

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Anonymous Coward

Gravity??

Surely this boffin should be referring to a warping of spacetime rather than gravity? Doesn't he watch Brian Cox on the telly?

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Re: Gravity??

Well yes, especially as I loved his comment about jumping off the 1m high rock he was standing on, if it were on a neutron star that the'd be going 14 million miles an hour when he 'reached' the ground. I loved that illustration. And I'm not sure that's falling either. I think falling is a human experience that probably only happens at 1 G ±0.5 G. Everything else is gravity! :)

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