Asteroid 21 Lutetia, the largest asteroid to ever be visited by a spacecraft
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NASA's Cleveland center deep into asteroid work

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- NASA engineers in Cleveland are working on a futuristic plan to send a robot craft alongside an asteroid in space and snare it.

The idea raises the fortunes of Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center within the space agency.

Center director James Free tells The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (bit.ly/Zd67CX ) that NASA Glenn has the technology needed to move forward on the asteroid project.

NASA plans to pump $38 million into the Cleveland center in 2014 to speed up development of the more powerful ion engines needed for the asteroid-capture mission.

The solar-electric propulsion technology uses the sun's energy to generate the electricity required to make and expel ions to push the spacecraft.

In December, Glenn engineers began planning the work to accelerate the technology for the asteroid-capture mission.

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Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

Copyright Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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