Scientists have discovered a new class of asteroids that can be easily captured, leaving a new target for NASA and asteroid mining companies.
Researchers found the asteroids by sorting through the current database of about 9,00 near-Earth objects. They looked for asteroids whose orbits could be made accessible by altering their velocity by under 500 meters per second.
Only 12 were found that met the criteria and these are known as “Easily Retrievable Objects” (EROs). These asteroids could be brought to Earth’s orbit within three to 7.5 years.
This means that there are a number of asteroids out there that could be captured using current technology. That said, asteroid capture remains a risky endeavor.
“Regarding the safety of such a project, there could be a justified concern regarding the possibility of an uncontrolled re-entry of a temporary captured asteroid into Earth’s atmosphere,” the researchers said.