Astronomical School’s Report, 2018, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 15–22

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UDC 523.68

Space experiment on the «catching» of astromaterials in near space to search for extraterrestrial life

Vidmachenko A.P.1,2, Steklov A.F.1,3

1The Main astronomical observatory of the NAS of Ukraine, 03143, Academician Zabolotny str., 27, Kyiv, Ukraine
2National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, 03041, Heroyiv Oborony st., 15, Kyiv, Ukraine
3Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, 03039, Frometivska str., 2, Kyiv, Ukraine

Abstract

Asteroids and cometary nuclei consist of the same primary substance as the gas-dust cloud from which the solar system was formed. Now this substance is being studied in the meteorite material that fell to the Earth's surface. NASA experts suggested after 2021 to catch an entire asteroid for its detailed study. The object with a diameter of up to 10 m and a mass of ≈500 tons is planned to be captured with a special unmanned probe, then delivered to the Moon's orbit; there the samples of the asteroid will be collected in special containers and sent to Earth for further analysis. Instead of such an expensive project to capture an entire asteroid, we propose to collect the meteorite substance with the help of spacecraft, being in orbit around the Earth right outside the terrestrial atmosphere. To do this, it is necessary to create a special device for catching dust and small meteorites in outer space with the help of a special meteoric network-traps made of gel. Delivered from near space meteorites and dust will not be exposed to high temperatures, which are harmful to living organisms. While ensuring complete sterility, this substance is likely to be able to provide us with valuable information about «extraterrestrial» life. Annually, about two dozen major meteor showers are observed. Each of them is connected with the «parent» body, which are cometary nuclei and asteroids. Therefore, the «capture» of meteoritic matter in the Earth's orbit, during the action of a particular meteor shower, will select the substance of the nucleus of a known comet or asteroid. At the same time, it will not be necessary to fly away for millions of kilometers, or to wait tens of years to study matter, for example, the nucleus of Halley's comet. After all, for this purpose, it is possible to carry out «catching» of matter from the nucleus of this comet annually in April and in October, when the Earth, moving in its orbit, meets with the cometary substance under the action of meteor showers Lyrids and Orionids. We must catch them in outer space, carefully «preserve» and deliver them for thorough research in terrestrial conditions with the help of modern high-quality equipment. While ensuring complete sterility, such meteorites are likely to bring us the most valuable information about extraterrestrial life.

Keywords: meteoroid; asteroid; comet nucleus; meteorite; extraterrestrial resources; extraterrestrial life; space experiment; bacteriomorphic structures; astromaterials; astrobiology

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