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News Picks : Spitzer shutdown may affect asteroid capture mission

By: Physics Today
23 June 2014

Nature: NASA has narrowed its potential target list for asteroids to capture or sample to just six options. However, one of the tools the agency has been using to evaluate the targets may be shut down next year. NASA's astrophysics division is proposing to turn off the Spitzer Space Telescope, whose IR camera can be used to accurately measure asteroid dimensions from their spectra. Spitzer has yearly operating costs of roughly $17 million, and in a "senior review" the agency conducted recently, it was rated as the division's lowest priority for continuation. The telescope has already identified one of the candidate targets as being just 6 m across, extremely porous and, roughly as dense as water.

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