NASA is working with a New York-based company to create the world’s first space shotgun.
As part of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), the gun will be used to shoot asteroids to test their strength and composition.
ARM aims to bring part of an asteroid into the moon’s orbit so a manned mission can be sent conduct tests in preparation for sending people to Mars.
In a statement, NASA says they have “identified multiple candidate asteroids and continues the search for one that could be redirected to near the moon in the 2020s.”
Of those identified so far, four could be good candidates for ARM. Scientists anticipate many more will be discovered over the next few years, and NASA will study their velocity, orbit, size and spin before deciding on the target asteroid for the ARM mission.”
Honeybee Robotics, the team assisting NASA with the gun, believe this process is a key step in the mission to send humans to Mars.
“Collecting and characterizing samples from asteroids is an important science goal in itself, and NASA has identified it as a key step toward human exploration of Mars,” said Kris Zacny, vice president and director of exploration technology at Honeybee Robotics.