NASA’s new spacecraft NEA Scout completed all required tests | Daily Current Affairs 2021
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NASA’s new spacecraft NEA Scout completed all required tests

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NEA Scout

NEA Scout: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently announced that its new spacecraft, named Near-Earth Asteroid Scout or NEA Scout, has completed all required tests and has been safely tucked inside the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

About NEA Scout:

  • Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout, is a miniaturized spacecraft, known as a CubeSat, developed under NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program.
  • NEA Scout is one of several payloads that will hitch a ride on Artemis I, which is expected to be launched in November 2021.
  • It is a small spacecraft, about the size of a big shoebox.
  • Its main mission is to fly by and collect data from a near-Earth asteroid.
  • It will also be America’s first interplanetary mission using special solar sail propulsion.
  • So far, spacecraft have been using solar energy to power them and execute critical functions.
  • This will be the first time that a spacecraft uses it as wind to generate thrust and move forward.
  • NEA Scout will use stainless steel alloy booms and deploy an aluminum-coated sail measuring 925 square feet.
  • The large-area sail will generate thrust by reflecting sunlight.
  • Energetic particles of sunlight bounce off the solar sail to give it a gentle, yet constant push.
  • The spacecraft will take about two years to cruise to the asteroid and will be about 93 million miles away from Earth during the asteroid encounter.

Artemis programme:

  • Artemis I will be an uncrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket.
  • Under the Artemis programme, NASA aims to land the first woman on the Moon in 2024.
  • NASA also aims to establish sustainable lunar exploration programs by 2030.

Why is the study of the near-Earth asteroids important?

  • Despite their size, some of these small asteroids could pose a great threat to Earth.
  • Understanding their properties could help in developing strategies for reducing the potential damage caused in the event of an impact.
  • Scientists will use this data to determine what is required to reduce risk, increase effectiveness, and improve the design and operations of robotic and human space exploration.

About Near-Earth Objects (NEOs):

  • NEOs are comets and asteroids pushed by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits which allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
  • These objects are composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles.
  • NEOs occasionally approach close to the Earth as they orbit the Sun.
  • NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Study (CNEOS) determines the time and distances of these objects, when their approach to the Earth is close, through the Asteroid Watch Widget.

About NASA:

  • It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
  • NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).
  • It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.
  • The 14th Administrator of NASA is Senator Bill Nelson.

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