NASA is looking at a proposal that could someday result in a manned landing on an asteroid.

NASA planetary scientist Paul Abell will speak about the idea to land on an as-yet-undetermined asteroid, at a space science symposium sponsored by the University of Alberta in Edmonton this Friday and Saturday.

While the proposal has not yet been approved by the U.S. government and no partners have been announced, there is a possiblity the University of Alberta could play a role because of its expertise in examining space rocks.

An asteroid landing would be similar to a moon landing, according to an animated video simulation released by the university on Thursday. A landing craft would descend onto the surface of the asteroid, and astronauts would exit and conduct experiments and collect samples.

Asteroids are relatively small celestial bodies that revolve around the sun, with diameters ranging from a few kilometres to several hundred.

Peter Smith, who worked on NASA's Phoenix Mars mission, will also give a keynote address during the symposium.

Smith has worked closely with Carlos Lange, an engineering professor at the university who designed a wind-speed indicator used in the Phoenix mission.


  • An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that NASA was teaming up with the University of Alberta for a project that could see a manned landing on an asteroid. That is incorrect. NASA's idea is merely a proposal, which has not been approved by the U.S. government, and there is no confirmation of any involvement from the University of Alberta or any other partners.
    Sep 24, 2009 7:05 AM ET