Orbiting in the recesses of solar system, farther from home than the Moon, a tiny fleck of light is all that tells a human space traveler of his destination. As the reflected light alternates between bright and dark every few hours, the traveler realizes his target, an asteroid, is spinning. As the view of the minor planet becomes larger, the traveler’s first impressions are typical for first contact with an asteroid: The surface is scarred with craters, deep grooves radiate from the object’s largest crater, and some areas are covered with a thin layer of gray regolith, similar to the color of the lunar highlands. The asteroid is somewhat angular in shape, and has a tiny moon nearby, undetected until the spacecraft comes closer. He arrives and soon hitches himself to the asteroid, like a climber up the side of a steep precipice on Earth. It is time to look around and see what treasures the tiny object will yield, resources for Earth and humans’ expansion into space.
KeywordsSolar System Escape Velocity Minor Planet Manned Flight Small Asteroid
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