NASA will visit its smallest asteroid yet alongside Artemis 1 mission

NASA's Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout will fly with the Artemis 1 mission's SLS rocket, set to observe the smallest asteroid yet.

Published Fri, Jan 21 2022 6:00 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Feb 17 2022 3:37 PM CST

A small satellite tagging along on the Artemis 1 moon mission will seek out the asteroid.

NASA will visit its smallest asteroid yet alongside Artemis 1 mission 01 |

The mission's target is 2020 GE, a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) less than 60 feet (18 meters) in size. To investigate it, the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout, the satellite will coast toward the satellite using solar sails. It will mark the first use of solar sails by NASA, and the first time an asteroid smaller than 330 feet (100 meters) across will be explored up close.

The camera aboard the NEA Scout has a resolution of fewer than 4 inches (10 centimeters) per pixel and will be used by scientists to determine the asteroid's size, shape, rotation and ascertain whether 2020 GE is solid or a conglomerate of smaller rocks and dust.

"Thanks to the discoveries of NEAs by Earth-based observatories, several targets had been identified for NEA Scout, all within the 16-to-100-foot [5-to-30-meter] size range. 2020 GE represents a class of asteroid that we currently know very little about," said Julie Castillo-Rogez, the mission's principal science investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.

The NEA scout will be one of the ten secondary payloads riding aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, that will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as part of the Artemis 1 moon mission.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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