I recently received a press release about an upcoming Science Channel special titled Man vs. the Universe. One episode will focus on the threat of asteroids impacting Earth and the various scenarios proposed to defend ourselves. The episode ends, the release says, with a segment about “the craziest NASA mission ever proposed.” The aim is to capture an asteroid in deep space with a giant bag and transport it into orbit around the moon for astronauts to study.
In this issue, Meghan Rosen provides an in-depth report on that mission, but without the erroneous conclusion that the Asteroid Redirect Mission has much to do with asteroid defense. It’s easy to see why the release writers got confused, though. According to NASA, the mission is really about Mars.
The truth may be a bit less lofty. As Rosen explains, this proposal comes from the human exploration arm of the space agency,