Monday, April 9, 2012

Doomsday Threat: World Powers Address Possible Asteroid Collision

A group of Chinese astronomers headed by Shengping Gong of Tsinghua University in Beijing published an article proposing to place a small spacecraft with a solar sail into a retrograde orbit in order to change the asteroid’s trajectory.

Russian space officials and members of the European Commission will meet in early July to discuss joining forces against thousands of potentially hazardous asteroids, the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.

The asteroid Apophis isn’t considered by NASA to be much of a risk, but Russian scientists aren’t so sure. The Russians are looking at a "space apparatus" to divert Apophis if it gets too sociable.

David French, a doctoral candidate in aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, said that by attaching ballast and a tether to asteroids "you change the object's center of mass, effectively changing the object's orbit and allowing it to pass by the Earth, rather than impacting it."

The minimum size of the Mount Ashmore dome, which represents elastic rebound doming of the Earth crust triggered by the impact, is 50 kilometres at the base, but the full size of the impact crater - not yet defined - may be significantly larger.

Earlier this year, Tokyo-based NEC Corporation announced it had started designing the new asteroid explorer for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
click picture
Asteroid 2011AG5 intercepting Earth's orbit

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