March 29, 2016

"NASA wants to explore the surface of asteroids, and private companies want to mine them for valuable resources."

WMFE: But we’re still not sure what to expect when we get there. by Brendan Byrne

'Josh Colwell, a researcher at the University of Central Florida says the lack of gravity on asteroids could make things difficulty for explorers. It’s so low, in fact, their gravity is “virtually zero,” says Colwell. “If you were near one of these small asteroids and dropped something, it might take it minutes to fall to the surface.”

'Colwell helped design an experiment called STRATA-1 that looks at how particles DO behave by using the low-gravity environment of the international space station.

'“So when we send astronauts there, or robotic explores, and they’re trying to maybe attach themselves to the surface, or take samples or make measurements interacting with the surface – we don’t know how it will behave.”

'Over the course of a few months, he’ll look at how different sized particles bounce around in clear tubes. That information can then be fed into a computer simulator.'

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