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Asteroid-bound: Scientists look for worthy rock

Proximity and slow spin rate are desirable for exploration

The Little Prince, who stood tall on his fictional house-sized asteroid B612, may soon have company. Since President Obama announced last month that NASA plans to send people to an asteroid by 2025 (SN: 5/8/10, p. 10), scientists have been scrambling to fill in the details. Before astronauts can embark on such a journey, they need to choose a destination.

Already, researchers have begun culling the list of potential candidates. Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., proposed criteria for identifying “potentially visitable objects” on April 28 in Brookline, Mass., at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division on Dynamical Astronomy.

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