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Could paintball one day save the planet ?

Posted on Monday, 29 October, 2012 | Comment icon 14 comments

Image credit: NASA

A graduate student from Massachusetts has developed a method to deflect an asteroid using paintballs.

Sung Wook Paek's proposal to save the world from an asteroid impact might not be quite as exciting as those explored in movies such as 'Armageddon' and 'Deep Impact' but in the event that we are ever threatened by a chunk of rock large enough to wipe out all life on Earth his technique might one day save us all.

Paek's idea involves firing large numbers of paint balls at the approaching asteroid so that parts of it ends up coated in a thin layer of paint. The force exerted on the paint by the Sun's photons would then gradually build up and push the asteroid off course so that it misses the Earth. The concept has proven so impressive that Paek has won a competition sponsored by the United Nations Space Generation Advisory Council that had been set up to find the best solution.

There is one snag however - it could take up to 20 years to apply the amount of paint needed for the plan to work.

"Saving the human race from the threat of an intergalactic asteroid could fall to that staple of office bonding trips and laddish weekends – paintballing."

  View: Full article |  Source: The Independent

  Discuss: View comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin on 29 October, 2012, 17:12
Paintballing an asteroid 20 years ahead of time in order to have an effect? That's about the dumbest idea I've heard of. Edit: I'm more for multiple kinetic energy weapons, multiple nuclear missles and such.
Comment icon #6 Posted by King Fluffs on 29 October, 2012, 20:56
I'm great at shooting. Sign me up!
Comment icon #7 Posted by WoIverine on 29 October, 2012, 21:30
Yea, I was thinking Rail Gun, while actually leaning towards BFG9000.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 29 October, 2012, 21:42
Nope, here is a REALLY dumb idea: Your idea would almost certainly doom the Earth. It seems highly likely that many asteroids are loose conglomerations of material, bound together by gravity Attacking them in the way you suggest would simply result in the asteroid breaking apart but continuing on the same orbital path. Instead of one impact there would be many, spread around the globe. The paint ball idea, on the other hand, would gradually alter the orbit of the asteroid ensuring that there is no impact at all.
Comment icon #9 Posted by csspwns on 30 October, 2012, 3:30
but wat if the rail gun eradicates all the atoms on the asteroid so that it wont fall into smaller chunks
Comment icon #10 Posted by Khaleid on 30 October, 2012, 7:35
Isn't the paint ball idea a kind of two-edged sword? Say we put paint on the asteroid, and for some unknown reason it tilts, then isn't it possible that the paint ball effect pushes the asteroid closer to the earth's path instead of further away? Also, I was wondering why one huge impact would be preferable over multiple smaller impacts? I see the problem that the smaller fragments would be spread over a much larger area, and therefore affecting more population. However, I would also figure that a nuke would:[list=1] [*]Reduce at least a small part of the total kinetic energy [... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by Idano on 30 October, 2012, 9:40
No one has addressed the BIG question...what color paint will be used I'm thinkin grey.....
Comment icon #12 Posted by WoIverine on 30 October, 2012, 16:15
Anything but pink, if the plan fails, I don't want to be killed by a giant pink asteroid, that just kind of seems wrong on many levels...
Comment icon #13 Posted by pallidin on 30 October, 2012, 18:31
From the article: "...Another NASA alternative is the "kinetic interceptor" which could deflect an asteroid by crashing into it. According to, a one mile-per-hour impact could divert an asteroid by 170,000miles if hit 20 years before the predicted collision..." I like that idea much better than paintballing.
Comment icon #14 Posted by woopypooky on 31 October, 2012, 14:37
do we have ability to manufacture that much paint? that short time?

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