Friday, February 08, 2013

NASA and Painting Asteroids

In my post  
I had talked about pushing asteroids off from any collision course they might be on, using asteroid movers (in the sense of earth movers).
Further search found that NASA is planning to send a probe in 2016 to visit an asteroid named 1999 RQ36. An unmanned probe will land on the asteroid, collect a sample and return it to Earth! That would tell us more about the make-up of the rock. Incidentally, RQ36 is quite a baby! It is so heavy that not much of life on earth will survive a collision with it! 
That web page also mentions a phenomenon known as the Yarkovsky effect — the faint propulsive power produced when an object like an asteroid absorbs sunlight and re-emits it as heat. "At its peak," he says, "when the asteroid is nearest the sun, the Yarkovsky force on 1999 RQ36 is about half an ounce — around the weight of three grapes."
David Hyland of Texas A&M University is quoted in
saying that a paint job is all that is needed to increase the push given by solar radiation and make the asteroid change its course.
I am willing to send a can of paint to NASA if they will paint my name on 1999 RQ36!

Srinivasan Ramani

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