baudrunner's space: Dealing with killer asteroids
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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dealing with killer asteroids

Here's how I would deal with a threatening asteroid. Just firmly tamp a rocket engine into it to affect its velocity just enough to be able to speed it up. Next, place directional attitude control rockets on the apparent nose of the rock to enable the steering feature so that it can be guided out of harm's way and back into the asteroid belt, even if it is suspected that it didn't originate from there. Also, place a few single-engined rockets on its apparent equator to facilitate this realignment of its trajectory, if necessary.

The trick is to catch up with it and then get close enough to plant something on it. The New Scientist Space blog reports in a December 14, 2006 article that the Planetary Society announced a competition to formulate a mission to plant a radio beacon it calls a "tag" on the asteroid Apophis, which might crash into the Earth in 1929 (that's so past 2012 that I don't even know why I bother, but just in case). Its current trajectory will take it inside the orbits of some satellites, and that's pretty close, but it might be a lot closer when it returns in 2036 - with a "small chance" of collision. In other words, it's attracted to us. The asteroid is 320 metres wide. The winner of the tagging contest was announced on Tuesday, February 26, 2008.

Other, less desirable objects might be placed in the asteroid belt. Like a huge convoy of skeletal garbage tugs taking undesirable waste out of our environment to doom it for an eternity of drifting around the sun until in some far flung future some giant salvaging firms chose to engage in a competitive orbital waste reclamation venture.

Imagine what life will be like then. I mean, what would be the transition between running cars for hours on some lightweight air compression motor - literally running on air - to the next stage in civilized progress, and what would we run them on then? My bet is, almost the same thing - hot air.

Angelo Di Pietro's engine runs on compressed air

Tiny turbines like minuscule jet engines could superheat the air and provide literally oodles of instant torque. And that would be one very strong engine which would get phenomenal mileage on the tiny little bit of jet fuel that it used to power it. All we would be doing is to give the compressed air a little boost and that wouldn't require much at all.

They wouldn't work on the asteroid of course. That would require rocket engines.

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