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University of Arizona to help with asteroid exploration

PHOENIX -- The White House wants Congress to approve a nearly $18 billion budget for space exploration. Scientists at the University of Arizona are taking the lead in that mission.

Dante Lauretta, the mission's main investigator and faculty member at Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said they're building the spacecraft they'll use to go to space in 2016.

"Survey that asteroid extensively, ultimately send the spacecraft to the surface, grab a sample and then bring that sample back to earth," Lauretta said.

Lauretta said the asteroid, called the RQ36, is over 4.5 billion years old. He said there's a chance it could collide with earth.

"We want to understand its orbit, where it's going to be in the future, what it's made out of and use that information to inform any kind of deflection mission that might be needed," Lauretta said.

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About the Author


Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.

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