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An asteroid will narrowly miss hitting Earth in February.
Video Source: CNN
A 40 meter asteroid would mass over 70 million kilograms… 155 million pounds for the metric challenged. I am not sure how you get “not a lot of mass” out of that. It would take a couple hundred Falcon 9 rockets to capture it on this pass.
Of course, the more time you have, the less energy you need. If you plan on taking a decade or more, a single Falcon 9 might do it if you could refuel it every pass.
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70 millions Kgs is 10g per person.
In terms of engineering for the entirety of humanity, it’s a teaspoon of rock each.
Not a lot of mass!
If we are talking engineering for humanity, we need about a billion times that amount, if we are serious about making a real difference in the security of every human being, and the ecosystems that support us.
We are talking about serious engineering, using a lot of solar energy to move a lot of rock. All perfectly doable, plenty of energy and mass out there, but not if we restrict ourselves to thinking in terms of markets and money – we have to think beyond that, to real abundance.
more info here http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news174.html
In all seriousness I think it makes more sense to try and catch one as it goes by. At 150ft long, it doesn’t have a lot of mass. It seems feasible to net it somehow. A small constellation of robotic rocket thrusters, orbiting the asteroid in synch with it’s rotation, should be able to deploy some sort of net for each rocket. Once ensnared the rotation could be stabilized. From there it could be nudged into a stable orbit. Learning how to do this could teach us all we need to know about diverting earth strikes, and mining in the belts. It would probably cost a lot less too.
One little 160ft ball of rock isn’t a lot of mass.
If we are wanting to get into serious engineering in space, then we will need a lot of mass – a few peta tons to start with, then more as people start building serious habitats and departing for other star systems.
The problem with stuff that comes to us of its own accord, is that it tends to have a lot of troublesome momentum when it gets here. If we go out, get it, and bring it back, we can keep that momentum differential within safe limits appropriate to spatial and orbital separation.
So if we took a direct hit from this thing, how much damage would it do? It sounds like it’s at least 40 meters in diameter. The estimated 30 meter asteroid that hit Siberia in 1908 leveled about 2,000 square kilometers of forest. 14,000 miles is indeed a very small distance in planitary terms.
As Ralph, I’m also curious as to why they don’t yet know how much the the earth’s gravity will bend this thing’s trajectory.
We don’t know whether and how the earth will bend its path? That makes no sense unless there is still significant uncertainty in the approach trajectory.
Maybe they do know, but don’t want to tell us! Oh, noes!
Why do ww want to go to the asteroid belt and bring them back? They already come here! What we need is a catchers MIT.
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