WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

UCF Researcher Uncovers Challenges Mining Asteroids

433 Eros is a stony asteroid in a near-Earth orbit. Photo: NASA

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

A University of Central Florida researcher wants to find out how dust particles behave in the weightlessness of micro-gravity. Findings will help design what to wear while exploring asteroids.

Researcher Josh Colwell’s experiment is getting a ride on the Vomit-comet – a plane that simulates micro-gravity environments.

He says clouds of dust on an asteroid behave differently than dust and dirt do on earth, and he hopes his experiment sheds some light on that behavior.

Using particles similar to the dust and dirt on an asteroid, Colwell wants to observe how they behave in micro-gravity.

“What we’re hoping to find are the conditions under which you can interact with a dusty surface safely and not create a big hazard. We can perhaps give NASA some guidance in terms of operating procedures,” said Colwell.

There’s a lot of interest in mining asteroids for minerals like platinum. So Colwell hopes his findings will help design space suits and tools for future asteroid explorers.

“The interest in this, from NASA, is trying to understand what kind of environments astronauts and spacecraft will encounter when we’re visiting these small asteroids in the future,” said Colwell

The vomit-comet gives Colwell about 20-seconds of micro-gravity to run the experiment, and takes off later next year.

Colwell’s experiment takes flight next year with the help of a $140,000 grant from NASA.


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida COVID-19 news, updates on special programs and more. Support our extended coverage.

GET THE LATEST

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. He also helps produce WMFE's public affairs show "Intersection," working with host ... Read Full Bio »

TOP