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NASA Astronauts Practice Asteroid Drilling Underwater for Upcoming Space Mission [WATCH VIDEOS]

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | May 12, 2014 5:03 PM EST

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released videos of their astronauts training underwater for their upcoming asteroid mission in Houston. On Friday, May 9, astronauts Stan Love and Steven Bowen can be seen in the videos testing the new suit and numerous tools in an underwater asteroid drilling practice at the space agency's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Centre.

The Weather Network reports that the two astronauts have a combined total of 62 hours spacewalk time over nine space shuttle missions. Frequently used in training or conducting complicated tasks is NASA's 12-metre-deep weightless vacuum of space tank.

However, the astronauts will not be ones capturing a space rock but a separate robotic probe sent off using an Orion space capsule. The released training videos showed the two astronauts performing their underwater tests next to the probe and capsule mockups.

In the videos, astronauts Stan Love and Steven Bowen were improving the techniques to be used for the upcoming space mission where samples from a captured asteroid will be collected. Astronaut Love shared in the NASA.gov report that the team is working on the techniques and tools that could be used in exploring a small asteroid captured from an orbit around the Sun.

NASA explained further explained in the report that the task of visiting an asteroid to acquire a core sample sounds simple but it is really complicated in space. "Such a sample could provide information on the age of the solar system and how it was formed. But the tools geologist use to collect core samples or even chips of rocks aren't a good idea in space - swinging a hammer in front of your face isn't safe when the sheet of glass between you and it is necessary to keep you alive. Instead Love and Bowen tried out a pneumatic hammer to give them a feel for whether a battery-powered version might be useful," NASA noted.

The actual space mission is scheduled to take place sometime in the 2020s. If the team succeeds in capturing a small asteroid, the core sample could be utilized in providing an insight on how the solar system was formed and how old it really is. Have a look below at NASA's videos shared on YouTube.


Credit: YouTube/ReelNASA


Credit: YouTube/ReelNASA

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