Method Proposed to Protect Earth From Asteroid Impact: Tethered Diversion

Asteroid Rotating

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The usage of a tether assisted system might avoid an asteroid affecting Earth without the danger of fragmentation.

Our world exists within the area of countless Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), a few of which –  Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs)  –  bring the danger of affecting Earth triggering significant damage to facilities and death. Methods to alleviate such a crash are extremely preferable. A brand-new paper released in EPJ Special Topics, authored by Flaviane Venditti, Planetary Radar Department, Arecibo Observatory, University of Central Florida, Arecibo, recommends making use of a tether assisted system to avoid PHA effect.

The technique recommended by Venditti and her coworkers includes utilizing the tether –  formerly recommended for other usages, such as space/lunar elevators and connected satellite system  –  to link the threatening PHA to another, smaller sized, asteroid, hence altering the center of gravity of the 2 and ideally raising the PHA to a more secure orbit.

Each possible PHA effect mitigation technique brings with it, its own set of advantages and threats. A substantial danger related to ‘high-impact’ mitigation strategies, such as the detonation of dynamites at the surface area of the PHA, is fragmentation. This makes techniques which slowly modify the orbit of a PHA, and hence avoid the separate of such a things, appear like a less dangerous possibility. The tether system brings with it little danger of triggering fragmentation and smaller sized pieces of the PHA being up to earth, something which might itself trigger prevalent damage.

Using the asteroid Bennu as a guinea pig, the group utilized computer system simulations to compute the characteristics of such a tether system for a range of various preliminary conditions, concluding that it would be possible for usage as a planetary defense system. The group likewise recommends that the system might be of usage in both the research study and possible mining of NEOs and other asteroids.

One of the most likely disadvantages of such a technique is the truth that it might need a longer preparation than lots of high effect techniques that rapidly provide kinetic energy to a PHA to knock it out of orbit. Thus, the ongoing cataloging of such items is required if such a technique is ever to be feasible.

Reference: “Dynamics of tethered asteroid systems to support planetary defense” by Flaviane C. F. Venditti, Luis O. Marchi, Arun K. Misra, Diogo M. Sanchez and Antonio F. B. A. Prado, 29 May 2020, The European Physical Journal Special Topics.
DOI: 10.1140/epjst/e2020-900183-y

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