A NASA asteroid sample extraction might look like this

In this concept shot, an astronaut collects samples from a captured asteroid.

(Credit: NASA)

When an asteroid comes moseying toward Earth, NASA won’t want to miss out on the supreme scientific opportunity. New NASA photos and video offer more details of the space agency’s plans, confirmed earlier this year, to snag a space rock and bring it closer to Earth for study.

Of course, netting an asteroid is easier to plan than it is to pull off. The latest idea, shown in the video released Thursday, has a two-person crew aboard the Orion spacecraft that would leave Earth by way of a heavy-lift rocket. After about nine days of space travel, which includes a trip near the moon’s gravity to pick up speed, Orion would approach an already-captured asteroid and dock with the robotic capture vehicle that hooked the space rock.

A concept of an astronaut working to collect a sample from a netted asteroid.

(Credit: NASA)

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