Asteroid destruction vs. nudging

by shawnlin - 12/18/06 7:39 PM

Asteroid destruction vs. nudging

I got your back, Tom (and Kevin in Calgary) smaller asteroids are much more likely than a larger ones to burn up as they travel through Earths atmosphere. It simply takes more exposure and time during the super hot entry through the atmosphere to burn up asteroids larger than saya baseball.

Also, there are 3 major camps of what to do with asteroids on their way to Earth (although, large asteroids that are going to hit the moon should also be addressed):

1) Blow it up with giant intra-galactic nuclear missiles *long before* they get to Earth so that it turns into grape-shot instead of a cannonball. The problem is that theres no telling if a few larger pieces might still come through Earths atmosphere especially when you have turned the giant cannonball into billions and BILLIONS of BBs.

2) Send several small/medium rocket engines to the asteroid, land and attach to the asteroid and turn on the engines to nudge the asteroid off course. The hard part here is making sure there are rockets to get the nudging rockets and the nudging fuel to orbit and ultimately to the asteroid.

3) A newer idea gaining some credibility is sending a massive spacecraft to be nearby the asteroid so that little by little the gravity pull to the nearby spacecraft will change the course of the asteroid. The problem with this is that the spacecraft has gotta be some large mass (think aircraft carrier) or you gotta send it out a looong time before it would hit Earth so that a smaller mass has enough time to use the gravity effect.

Bottom line solutions to all three of these ideas are doable and yet to be developed in physical formIm sure that the defense department, NASA or both will get a blank check whenever an asteroid with Earths name on it is identified, however.

More info: http://www.tulane.edu/~sanelson/geol204/impacts.htm

Veronica, Im with you on raising the award to $10 million for tracking the asteroidsthough, the work could prove to be worth hundreds of thousands times more

Best,
Shalin