This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

10 December 2007

Article: "The Best Way to Deflect an Asteroid"

From the article:

Massimiliano Vasile, a lecturer in aerospace engineering at the University of Glasgow, recently concluded a two-year study comparing nine asteroid-deflection methods, rating them for efficiency, complexity and launch readiness.

The best method, called “mirror bees,” entails sending a group of small satellites equipped with mirrors 30 to 100 feet wide into space to “swarm” around an asteroid and trail it, Vasile explains. The mirrors would be tilted to reflect sunlight onto the asteroid, vaporizing one spot and releasing a stream of gases that would slowly move it off course. Vasile says this method is especially appealing because it could be scaled easily: 25 to 5,000 satellites could be used, depending on the size of the rock.

The losing ideas — satellites equipped with lasers; detonating a nuclear explosion; pushing the asteroid with a spacecraft, to name a few — might still have their place. Vasile says improved technologies could make others appealing in the future. (In March, NASA released a report on “near Earth objects” that deemed the nuclear-explosion method the most effective.)

"The Best Way to Deflect an Asteroid"
New York Times
Lia Miller
09 December 2007

Link: Article

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