It was once considered the most dangerous object in the universe, heading for Earth with the explosive power of 84 Hiroshimas. Now an asteroid called 2000SG344, a lump of rock barely the size of a large yacht, is in the spotlight again, this time as a contender for the next giant leap for mankind.
Nasa engineers have identified the 1.1m tonne asteroid, which in 2000 was given a significant chance of slamming into Earth, as a potential landing site for astronauts, ahead of the Bush administration's plans to venture deeper into the solar system with a crewed voyage to Mars.
The mission - the first to what officials call a Near Earth Object (NEO) - is being floated within the US space agency as a crucial stepping stone to future space exploration. full article here.