Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pushing an asteroid off its course a little bit to avoid a collision!

In one of my earlier posts I had referred to the idea of painting an asteroid white so that solar radiation would gently push it away from the sun. My main objection to that is - it would require pretty long notice. The technique cannot change the asteroid's orbit fast enough. Asteroid 2012_DA14 was discovered less than 12 months before its nearest approach. There was no time for the paint job to work!

So, what are the other options? Visit for some light reading about ten methods including the paint job. The most attractive one seems to be to hit the asteroid gently with a rocket weighing say 10 tons and hoping that the asteroid does not break up into pieces. The probability that it does break up into big enough pieces threatening the earth could be low. In that case, we would just  need to use another ten-ton rocket! Perhaps a few!  This might be a lot more practical than solutions like shining a mirror at the asteroid!

We hear on and off about big powers destroying some of their own missiles as one  step towards disarmament. Perhaps, they can modify and set apart a hundred such missiles each to fight common enemies of humanity, in the form of asteroids on possible collision courses with the earth. Such, missiles are available at practically no cost to major powers.

One good thing! The horrible, original, payload fitted to these missiles would not be needed for their new mission.  

Srinivasan Ramani

1 comment:

Srinivasan Ramani said...

Visit Could NASA Turn an Asteroid Into a Satellite? Should We? Why Not? to read a reference to a proposed NASA project named ARM to pick a big boulder off an asteroid and make it a satellite of a planet or a moon. The article goes on to discuss the possibility and utility of capturing an asteroid like Apophis and make that a satellite! Not an easy job, since the mass involved is in megatons!