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Besides the US, we focus a lot on Russia and China's space programs. India also gets a little attention. Brazil, Russia, India, and China form the BRIC group which is widely presumed to surpass G7 economically. As such, the BRIC nations are considered to be roughly on the same level in economy.

In terms of space, Brazil does have a growing space program that has been pretty successful so far. They've made several launches, as well as contributions to the ISS.

What plans does AEB (the Brazilian Space Agency) have for missions beyond GEO?

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Brazil is currently planning its first deep space mission to the triple asteroid 2001 SN263. The mission, named ASTER, is planned to launch in 2021. The triple asteroid system will come within 150 million miles of Earth in 2019, w̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶A̶S̶T̶E̶R̶ ̶m̶i̶s̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶b̶e̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶a̶r̶r̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶a̶s̶t̶e̶r̶o̶i̶d̶. ASTER would arrive later, in 2022. The probe will orbit and then land on the main body of the triple asteroid to learn more about "the origins of the Solar system, asteroid-Earth collision protection mechanisms and the origin of life on Earth."

The mission is currently considering the following instruments for exploring the target:

  • Imaging Camera
  • Laser Rangefinder
  • Infrared Spectrometer
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar
  • Mass Spectrometer

The asteroid is a C-type asteroid which is difficult to study from Earth, but may hold clues to the formation of planets and life on Earth.

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