In 1991 the Galileo spacecraft photographed the asteroid, Gaspra. This picture shows the asteroid in false color. Gaspra circles the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
Click on image for full size
Japan And U.S. Join Together for Asteroid Expedition
News story originally written on June 20, 1997
The first asteroid collection mission has been set. Japan and the United States will join together in the MUSES-C mission. The mission is to be launched in January 2002 from Japan. The spacecraft will arrive at the NEREUS asteroid in September 2003.
Nereus is a small asteroid one mile across. It was discovered in 1982. At its closest point to the Sun, its orbit takes it just inside the orbit of the Earth.
The MUSES-C spacecraft contains a small robotic rover that will conduct surface measurements of the rocky asteroid. The rover weighs less than 2.2 pounds. It is the smallest rover ever flown in space. Samples will be taken from the asteroid to be brought back to earth.
Scientists can do experiments with these samples. The scientists hope to find information about how our solar system formed long ago.
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