Proposal To Move An Asteroid
Edward Lu of the B612 Foundation recently spoke before the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space of the Senate Commerce Committee regarding methods of defending ourselves against asteroid impacts.
(From Asteroid Ida [From NASA])
He offered what the B612 Foundation called a "bold new proposal" to demonstrate altering the orbit of an asteroid. As he points out, there is a ten percent chance that during our lifetimes there will be an asteriod striking Earth with the energy of 700 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Not to mention the much more remote chance of a civilization-ending strike. They will be starting with something a bit smaller than Ida, shown above. At roughly 56x24x21 kilometers in size, it's a bit larger than the B612 group wants to tackle - maybe something about 200 meters in diameter might be better to start with.
The group proposes using Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engines, which uses radio waves to ionize a gass and accelerate the plasma to high exhaust velocity.
However, this is not a new idea; it was proposed some sixty-five years previously in Misfit, a short story published by Robert Heinlein in 1939. The story introduces the character of Andrew "Slipstick" Libby, a mathematical genius who worked in the Cosmic Construction Corps while still a young boy. Their project: move Asteroid HS-5388 to a new orbit for habitation. (Historians of that era may enjoy the play on CCC - the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Roosevelt administration, which offered constructive work during the Great Depression.)
In the story, the asteroid is moved with permanently mounted rocket tubes, that would fire at precise intervals with exactly the right amount of force, to nudge the asteroid into a new orbit.
Update 26-Dec-2006: I found an older reference for this idea. In Edmond Hamilton's 1934 story Thundering Worlds, he explicitly mentions the same technique of carefully positioned blast pits.
Huge pits miles across and many miles deep were sunk in each planet at three points around its equator. These pits were metal-lined and thus were in fact stupendous tubes sunk in the planet.
(Read more about planetary propulsion End update)
See Why Move An Asteriod? for more information. More information about the technology that might be used for this mission may be found at Mission Possible: Asteroid Tugboat Backed For Trial Run.
Update: Take a look at Hayabusa Spacecraft Makes First Asteroid Landing for more on this topic; there is also a long quote from Heinlein's story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/17/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 5 )
Related News Stories -
Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.' - George Lucas, 1977.
Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.' - EC Tubb, 1958.
Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...' - Gene Roddenberry, 1968.
Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Asimov and Musk - Boring Company Tunnel vs. Street Race
'There was almost no sound, just a steady velvety whirr as the taxi sped along.'
Project Dylan - Amazon's Voice-Activated Wearable That Recognizes Human Emotions
Life imitates anime art.
Tesla Diagnoses Itself, Sends Part Request
'Tentacles emerged from the side of the machine and felt puzzledly at the damaged area.'
Lilium Electric Air Taxi Prototype
'The air-taxi found its way past and around other ground-cars...'
Swedes Premiere T-Pod Driverless Electric Truck
'the trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'
HEL TVD Laser System To Be Built By Dynetics Lockheed Martin
'Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leaping from one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men.'
Alcarelle Synthetic Alcohol Like Star Trek Synthehol
Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.
Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'
Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'
China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'
Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'
New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'
Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'
Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories