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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 5 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Childhood Dreams Of Space Realized! Space Junk Problem Solved!
'Give the noble daydreams a rest, you preachy rookie. Astronauts are wage slaves like everyone else!' - Planets, 2003.

LBNP Device Not Quite 'Artificial Gravity'
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses..' - Murray Leinster, 1953.

China's XPNAV 1 To Use X-Ray Pulsars For Navigation
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Murray Leinster, 1956.

Will Astronauts Get iPads In Space?
'He would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1968.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Life In Detroit's 'Agrihood' - The First In The U.S.
'countless tiny brown circles in the green fields ...occasional ruins of ancient cities...'

Artificial 'Hairs' To Enhance Senses Of Robots
'Migul had extended from each of the fingertips an inch-long filament of wire...'

The Point Of View Of An Autonomous Car
'It is safe to say that the new model almost revolutionized America in more ways than one...'

You Can't Lose The Travelmate Autonomous Suitcase - It Follows You
'...follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

ibotn Toddler-Care Mini-Robot
'She's not like a machine. She's like a person. A living person.'

Nuclear Batteries Based On Diamonds Last Millennia
'they just package it and ship it around to wherever people want it...'

Eighth Sense Emotion-Responsive Cloak
'This sensitivity to mood explains the real popularity of bio-fabrics...'

British Airways To Offer An Ingestible Sensor To Passengers
The modern way to get feedback from passengers.

Unique DNA To Foil Parts Counterfeiters
'... the only molecule, a unique protein amino acid, which could not be duplicated.'

MIT Researchers Predict The Future From Still Photos
'What I have in this camera is not a record of what you did just now but what will go on here in the next half hour...'

Mini Robot Uses 2 mm Surgical Tools
'... surgical tool - blades, tweezers, probes - so fine you could just see them with the naked eye.'

Childhood Dreams Of Space Realized! Space Junk Problem Solved!
'Give the noble daydreams a rest, you preachy rookie. Astronauts are wage slaves like everyone else!'

Writhing Robotic Tentacle Uses Laser To Chop Nuke Hardware
'... long, flexible, glittering tentacles... swinging and rattling about its strange body.'

LBNP Device Not Quite 'Artificial Gravity'
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses..'

China's XPNAV 1 To Use X-Ray Pulsars For Navigation
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

Artificial Muscle Material Is Self-Healing, Super Stretchy
Battletech!

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.