Skip to comments.Paintballs may deflect an incoming asteroid
Posted on 10/27/2012 3:36:47 PM PDT by JoeProBono
In the event that a giant asteroid is headed toward Earth, youd better hope that its blindingly white. A pale asteroid would reflect sunlight and over time, this bouncing of photons off its surface could create enough of a force to push the asteroid off its course. How might one encourage such a deflection? The answer, according to an MIT graduate student: with a volley or two of space-launched paintballs.
Sung Wook Paek, a graduate student in MITs Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, says if timed just right, pellets full of paint powder, launched in two rounds from a spacecraft at relatively close distance, would cover the front and back of an asteroid, more than doubling its reflectivity, or albedo. The initial force from the pellets would bump an asteroid off course; over time, the suns photons would deflect the asteroid even more.
Paeks paper detailing this unconventional strategy won the 2012 Move an Asteroid Technical Paper Competition, sponsored by the United Nations Space Generation Advisory Council, which solicits creative solutions to space-related problems from students and young professionals. Paek presented his paper this month at the International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy.
The challenge put forth by this years U.N. competition was to identify novel solutions for safely deflecting a near-Earth object, such as an asteroid. Scientists have proposed a wide variety of methods to avoid an asteroid collision. Some proposals launch a projectile or spacecraft to collide with an incoming asteroid; the European Space Agency is currently investigating such a mission.
Other methods have included detonating a nuclear bomb near an asteroid or equipping spacecraft as gravity tractors, using a crafts gravitational field to pull an asteroid off its path.......
A Whiter Shade of Pale....?
(with all apology to Procol Harem)
Or they might tinker with a near miss and drag it head on. I think this is called tempting fate.
If I only had a dollar for every time “the room was spinning harder, as the ceiling flew away.”
Mission control: "You applied the paint on the object's left side, right?"
Mission control: "No, left"
X37: "Right. Wait, say again, left side from who's perspective?"
Mission Control: "From the ground perspective"
X37: "OMG, OMG, OMG. What have we done?"
I’ll be there...
If they're spraying the pellets from both sides, I would think the two batches of pellets would cancel each other out.
This takes tagging to a new height!
GOTTA BE a renewable gub'mint grant!!
THIS IS BETTER THAN OBAMAPHONE!!!
My thoughts too - might make it hit us. Plus, it seems unlikely we would be able to detect and get to such a rock while it was far enough out to allow them m ighty photons to do much in the way of any movement. Just because it “looks good on paper” doesn’t necessarily mean it has a practical use - yet.