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.

09 September 2011

SGAC Announces the Winner of the 2011 Move an Asteroid Competition ("Smart Cloud" for Asteroid Mitigation)

The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) announced the winner of its 2011 Move An Asteroid International Technical Paper Competition. Here is the announcement from SGAC. The winner, Alison Gibbings, is currently is currently a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde within the Advanced Concept Laborator in Glasgow, Scotland. She will be on National Public Radio (NPR) radio show Science Friday. Here is the NPR show information.

Her proposal outlined in the paper is for a "Smart Cloud" utilizing, multiple small particles for momentum transfer for asteroid deflection.

2011 Move an Asteroid Winning Paper Abstract:

This paper presents a novel idea for the successful deflection of asteroids. Adapted initially from the kinematic impactor approach, this new concept – Smart Cloud – combines the relative benefits of ion beaming in providing a large cloud of small particles for the effective deflection and mitigation of asteroids. The cloud consists of a large number of incredibly low mass nano-size spacecraft that are released at a high relative velocity. Upon impact with the asteroid the smart cloud is shown to be highly effective in creating a large artificial drag, and therefore an associated thrust, onto the asteroid. The technique is also advantageous in avoiding the catastrophic fragmentation of the asteroid which might otherwise occur with the impact of a monolithic spacecraft and/or projectile. The impact energy of each colliding particle is significantly lower than the impact energy for disruption. . For analysis the smart cloud approach has been compared to other methods of potential deflection. This includes the low-thrust tug and the ion beaming technique. The paper will show that when the total deflection mass of the smart cloud is equivalent to the ion beaming approach, is has the advantage of significantly reducing the system mass and complexity of the spacecraft design. It is also superior in the deflection and mitigation of deep crossing asteroids.

Link: SGAC News Annoucement
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