Finishing a conference in Italy on outer solar system and deep space exploration, Paul Gilster reports on one of the many papers he pledges to blog about in the future - using near Earth objects (NEOs), asteroids in this case, as convenient transfer points:
"The idea here is that the astronauts can use the NEO as a radiation shield, digging in to its surface and exploiting its resources on the way to the red planet. Greg presented a table showing candidate objects that could fill the bill, including two — 1999YR14 and 2007EE26 — that have one Earth-Mars transit time amounting to one year or less."
See the entire post at the highly recommended blog Centauri Dreams.
Reading Paul's entry, my mind immediately wandered to the mission to the moon Phobos, which may or may not be an asteroid captured by Mars, and the Rosetta mission to orbit and land on Comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. Rosetta has already flown past the asteroid 2867-Steins (video is available on YouTube) and will encounter 21-Lutetia at roughly this time next year.
And the artist's image of the lander, Philae, lashed to the comet (above) has to be one of my favorite space images ever. Click to enlarge.
Now for a bit of housekeeping: Kentucky Space blog will be on hold for the next week as I spend some time away from the computer monitor on vacation with my family. See you a bit later.
Credits: ESA, image by AOES Medialab