February 04, 2014, 10:48 AM — NASA has posted a new video (via the NASA Goddard YouTube channel) describing how it plans to get a sample from an asteroid, using the analogy of the kids' game "Tag".
The plan for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which will approach the Bennu asteroid in 2018, is to use the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), which will approach the surface of the asteroid, grab a sample of material and then "run away", much like the time when you would become "It" in a game of tag. This method, according to NASA, is much easier to accomplish than trying to land astronauts on the asteroid's surface, or even try to anchor a spacecraft to the giant rock. The video here explains more:
Of course, the tinfoil brigade is out in force in the YouTube comments, suggesting that this is just a cover story for a plan to divert or destroy any asteroids that might come crashing down to the planet. Maybe they should have Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis and Aerosmith (you know, from the movie "Armageddon") on standby, in case those conspiracy theories are true. Woooooooooo! (insert spooky music here).
Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.