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NASA-asteroid-redirect-programme-Donald-Trump-scrapping-780646

Trump Axes NASA’s Planet-Saving Asteroid-Smasher Program Leaving Earth More Prone to Impacts

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AN AMBITIOUS NASA plan to change the course of earth-bound asteroids potentially averting an EXTINCTION LEVEL catastrophe is being scrapped by Donald Trump.

Four more space programs, largely collecting and analysing climate data, have also been axed.

The controversial Asteroid Redirect Mission was an Obama-era project and would have seen robotic space probes grabbing a block from a speeding asteroid and forcing it into orbit around the Moon.

Phase two of the Asteroid Redirect Mission would see astronauts landing on the orbiting space rock and carrying out further research.

NASA scientists not only hoped to gain astonishing new knowledge about the universe but the program was a test-bed for a bigger programme to deflect bigger, life threatening asteroids from a collision course with Earth.

But last night the Trump administration released its 2018 budget request which included a proposal calling for the cancellation of NASA’s astronauts-to-an-asteroid mission – along with four otherEarth Science missions and NASA’s Office of Education.

The 2018 NASA budget is set at $19.1Bn – a cut of about one percent.

A NASA insider said the cancelled program may have catastrophic consequences for the planet and added: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that life on earth has been seriously threatened with extinction a number of times – and we are overdue for a collision.

“This project is a proof-of-concept mission for deflecting a threatening body. I just hope we don’t rue the day.”

NASA’s acting chief Robert Lightfoot said: “We remain committed to the next human missions to deep space, but we will not pursue the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) with this budget.

Asteroid Redirect's Planning stages

Asteroid Redirect’s Planning stages

“We will continue the solar electric propulsion efforts benefitting from those developments for future in space transportation initiatives.”

NASA’s Earth Science division would receive $1.8 billion in 2018 under the proposed budget – $102 million less than 2017 funding levels.

The four missions cancelled outright include:

The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite to monitor Earth’s ocean health and atmosphere in 2022

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 experiment that would track carbon-dioxide levels from the International Space Station

The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) pathfinder Earth climate instrument for the ISS in 2020 time frame

The Deep Space Climate Observatory(DSCOVR), a joint NASA-NOAA mission that is in orbit today and monitoring Earth from space.

PAUL BALDWIN
Express UK


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