MIT Works On A Method To Divert Approaching Asteroids

James Marshall
February 20, 2020

Since then no such enormous space rocks have approached earth, but space experts strongly believe that doomsday asteroid hits are not confined to the past, and it will happen in the future too.

We're not in rapid hazard of any asteroids colliding with Earth - not less than not so far as anybody's conscious.

Presently MIT researchers have conceived a substructure for determining which kind of mission would be most victorious in averting an approaching asteroid. To see precisely what the number of potentially risky space rocks we've been missing, specialists from the Netherlands built an AI network to examine the information and see what it could discover. Inevitably, Earth will be in the process of collision with a unsafe asteroid at some time in the future, and identifying objects that pose threats is a big problem.

"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", says Sung Wook Paek, lead author of the study and a former graduate student in MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The main drawback here is that we need more data about the asteroid and its orbit.

The researchers tested their simulation on Apophis and Bennu, two of only a handful of asteroids for which the locations of their gravitational keyholes with respect to Earth are known. Apophis will pass near a keyhole in 2029, but it's not now predicted to hit us.

The researchers applied their method to Apophis and Bennu, the near-Earth asteroids, the latter of which is the target of OSIRIS-REx, an operational NASA mission that plans to return a sample of Bennu's surface material to Earth in 2023.

The tests ran on Bennu, and Apophis turned out to be very efficient.

Now MIT researchers have devised a framework for deciding which type of mission would be most successful in deflecting an incoming asteroid. Another option is to send a scout to inspect the asteroid to zero in on how a second spacecraft could knock it off course. The third consists of two halves: a scout and small impactor to potentially deflect the asteroid in the first phase, and then a second larger impactor to make completely sure the asteroid is no threat. Between two and five years, it is more likely to succeed with the single explorer followed by a projectile fired from Earth. Or we could launch projectiles from the moon or use defunct satellites as kinetic impactors, ” Paek says. A year or less, the bad news is that nothing seems so likely to succeed.

For an object like Bennu, we might be able to skip the scout missions.

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