Tech&Innovation

Can we deflect meteors?

There probably is a large rock; and huge rock about half the size of the moon, in outer space. This rock is not a planet nor is it a moon of a planet. It is an asteroid. These rocks have a possibility of bumping into our planet earth and potentially harming all of us. Many scientists predict that the dinosaurs were extinct this way, and the scientists don’t want that to happen to humanity. The scientists have spotted an asteroid potentially bumping into earth in the next century or so, and they are coming up with plans to get rid of the asteroid collision. 

One of these ideas was to break the asteroid before it hits earth. This would be done by launching a projectile that would shatter the space rock into pieces small enough to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. But scientists have since come to realize that achieving such a direct, catastrophic hit is a serious challenge.

For almost 20 years, a team of researchers has been preparing for such a scenario. Using a specially designed gun, they’ve repetitively fired objects at meteorites and measured how the rocks took in the shot and in some cases, have broken into pieces. These observations were to know how an asteroid might respond to a high-velocity impact intended to shun it away from Earth. Working in the facility’s firing chamber, about the size of a walk-in closet, the researchers hung up each space rock from a piece of nylon string. They then changed the chamber to a vacuum — to copy the conditions of outer space — and fired tiny aluminum spheres at the meteorites. Some meteors have stayed in shape, but some of them have broken apart and have flown back to the side where they shot the aluminum, which would be earth in the real world. However, to confirm that shooting a projectile doesn’t work on an asteroid, NASA is planning on an experiment done by the DART mission. They are planning a kinetic experiment on the roughly 525-foot piece of rock known as Dimorphos. This will shed more light on the possibility of hitting an asteroid out of its path.

citation:https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/25/science/asteroid-deflection-collision.html

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