NASA Administrator Visits JPL, Talks Asteroids

NASA Administrator Visits JPL, Discusses Asteroid Initiative NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden (front center) discusses the Asteroid Initiative at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on May 23, 2013, in one of the laboratories where engineers are testing and developing advanced spacecraft engine technology. The Asteroid Initiative is a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. Behind Bolden, from left to right, are JPLers Brian Muirhead, chief engineer; Firouz Naderi, director of the solar system exploration directorate; John Brophy, electric propulsion engineer; Don Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Object Program Office; and Paul Chodas, a scientist with the NEO office. The small circular object just to the right of Muirhead is a model of an ion engine similar to what is being developed for the Asteroid Initiative. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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May 23, 2013

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden met with members of the asteroid initiative team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Later, Bolden and some team members spoke with media inside a JPL lab where advanced technology propulsion systems are built and tested, like the type that will be used for the asteroid initiative. JPL and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland are developing the ion thruster jointly.

The initiative is a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system, where astronauts can visit in person and explore it.

D.C. Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

2013-173

Images

Explaining the Solar-Electric Propulsion Engine

John Brophy, an electric propulsion engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., explains to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden (right) the development of a sophisticated solar-electric propulsion engine that could be used on the Asteroid Initiative. The Initiative proposes using a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. Brophy and Bolden are speaking in front of a vacuum chamber where the engines, which uses solar energy to accelerate xenon ions for propulsion, are tested on May 23, 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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The Engine Burns Blue

This image shows a cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster in development at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that uses xenon ions for propulsion. An earlier version of this solar-electric propulsion engine has been flying on NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroid belt. This engine is being considered as part of the Asteroid Initiative, a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. This image was taken through a porthole in a vacuum chamber at JPL where the ion engine is being tested. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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