MIT Works On A Method To Divert Approaching Asteroids

It is estimated that on April 2029, an icy block of space object, more prominent than the Eiffel Tower, will crash Earth at 30 kilometers/second. It will represent the closest encountering by one of the most massive asteroids passing our planet’s orbit.

Measurements of the asteroid, dubbed 99942 Apophis, indicated that it would probably bring a disastrous impact. Recent research, however, might shed light on such a case, bringing some strategies that scientists could base their projects upon.

MIT Researchers’ Study Detects Potentially Hazardous Near-Earth Asteroids

MIT researchers have developed a way of determining which sort of mission would be the best in diverting an approaching space object. They used their decision map to establish the type of task that would possibly bring the most success in deviating asteroids such as Bennu and Apophis.

Their method can be utilized to develop the optimal mission campaign and configuration to redirect a PHO (also known as a potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid).

“People have mostly considered strategies of last-minute deflection when the asteroid has already passed through a keyhole and is heading toward a collision with Earth,” explained Sung Wook Paek, the lead author of the research.

MIT Works On Diverting Asteroids

Paek and his team modeled a code to detect the type of space object deflection task that would have the best result. The missions they thought of are those which involved a standard kinetic impactor, in which a missile is fired into outer space to nudge an asteroid off track.

The tests ran on Bennu, and Apophis turned out to be very efficient. The different simulated distances between each asteroid and estimated for each range a “safe harbor” area where a space object would have to deviate. Finally, with the researchers’ latest simulation, Peak intends to estimate the success of other derivation missions in the future.

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