Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing a solution map to determine the best way to deviate from an upcoming collision with an asteroid.
On April 13, 2029, an ice piece of cosmic stone, which is larger than the Eiffel Tower, will collide with the Earth at a speed of 30 kilometers per second, touching the sphere of geostationary satellites of the planet.
Scientists are observing an asteroid known as 99942 Apophis (99942 Apophis), it is assumed that it will collide with the earth in 2029 and in 2036. According to the latest data, the asteroid will approach the Earth without incident, both in 2029 and in 2036. However, most scientists believe that asteroid deflection strategies should be considered.
However, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed two strategies to prevent collisions with a giant asteroid. Researchers use their decision map to determine the type of mission that is likely to be most successful in deflecting Apophis in various scenarios in which an asteroid can head towards a gravity keyhole. They say that the method can be used to develop the optimal mission configuration and campaign to reject a potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroid.
“People mostly looked at last-minute deflection strategies when an asteroid has already passed through a keyhole and is heading for a collision with the Earth,” said Sung Wook Paek, lead author of the study and former graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aeronautics and Cosmonautics “. “I am interested in preventing the passage of the keyhole long before it hits the Earth. It’s like a preemptive strike with less damage. ”
Peck’s co-authors at MIT are Olivier de Veck. Olivier de Weck; Jeffrey Hoffman; Richard Binzel; and David Miller.
In 2007, NASA, in a report to the US Congress, concluded that if an asteroid is heading for Earth, the most effective way to deflect it is to launch a nuclear bomb into space. The use of nuclear weapons to mitigate damage from an asteroid remains a controversial issue.
The second best option was to send a “kinetic drummer” – a spacecraft, rocket or other projectile, which, if it is directed in the right direction and at a sufficient speed, should collide with an asteroid, transmit some fraction of its momentum, and deviate from the course.
“However, for the success of any kinetic impactor,” said O. de Vek, professor of aeronautics, astronautics and engineering systems, “the properties of an asteroid, such as its mass, momentum, trajectory and surface composition, must be known“ as accurately as possible ”.