In the Star Trek universe, our brave heroes endeavor to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” NASA is taking a slightly different approach, bringing the world of space closer to us instead. They really are trying to bring the mountain to Mohammed, so to speak.
Apparently, the current project is to “lasso” an asteroid from outer space and bring it closer to Earth so they can study it. In “kidnapping” the space rock, NASA can then send astronauts to visit it and to perform various scientific experiments on it. If the asteroid were a living being, we’d almost say this was cruel, but I guess it’s just a rock.
The main goal of this project is to learn enough about asteroids such that we can avoid a catastrophic collision in the future. Many astrophysicists have already warned us about these potential collisions and the kind of impact (terrible pun intended) they could have on the planet as we know it. We need to know how to best deflect an incoming asteroid so that it will avoid crashing into the Earth.
So, NASA wants a pet rock so it can pluck off its wings, poking and prodding at its body for scientific curiosity. I guess we are all kids at heart, even if we have bolder goals and ambitions.