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View Diary: Can we stop an object from hitting the earth? (108 comments)

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  •  asteroids rotate (1+ / 0-)
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    Every scheme I've heard totally ignores that asteroids rotate.  Sometimes fast, around an axis that is unknowable in advance.  Tumble is another word.

    Trying to attach something to a spinning, tumbling object is impossible.  

    Laser beams have the problem that they cannot hit the same spot again.  So the energy is spread out over the surface, with little effect.  

    A gravitational attractor might work, but any scheme that ignores the asterioid's spin, tumble, angular momentum is

    •  Spray paint the asteriod's prime target areas (0+ / 0-)

      with a coating that improves absorption of the laser.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:20:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's the beauty of the gravity tractor, it (3+ / 0-)
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      owlbear1, rb608, The Nose

      doesn't attach to the asteroid but just flies along side it maintaining a relatively constant distance.  Remember, that soda can on your desk has it's own gravitational field though just a very small one.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 02:32:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is the energy required, not the spin (1+ / 0-)
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      You don't have to hit the same spot. You don't have to attach anything.  For example, nuclear weapons are like hand grenades: close counts. F still equals ma.  Laser beams don't have to hit the same spot to push the orbit away from the earth. They simply need to add momentum in the same direction.

      The problem with any solution is that large amounts of energy are required to change the momentum of a large object moving at a high speed.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:28:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm ... large amounts of energy ... (1+ / 0-)
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        Isn't that what we are already kinda good at here on Earth with nuclear weapons?

        How about a large enough nuclear device exploded near the asteroid to nudge it into a safe orbit, but not so close as to explode it into dangerous fragments?

        I kind of prefer this route as it would combine brute strength with precision aiming and timing, all of which we should be able to achieve now or in the near future.  

        Obviously it would be preferable to engage the asteroid at a great distance from Earth, the farther out the better, just in case we need to do another take or go to a Plan B.

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