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Space & Astronomy

MIT develops asteroid strike 'decision map'

By T.K. Randall
February 22, 2020 · Comment icon 5 comments

How should we deal with an incoming asteroid ? Image Credit: NASA/Don Davis
Scientists have come up with a way to decide upon the best response to an incoming apocalyptic asteroid.
Exactly what we should do to stop a large incoming space rock has long remained a topic of debate among physicists, but now a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has come up with a novel new system designed to determine the best course of action in any given scenario.

The system works by weighing up various factors such as the size, shape, mass and momentum of the incoming space rock and then coming up with the best option to avoid it reaching Earth's gravitational keyhole - the point of no return past which a collision is all but inevitable.

Depending on the circumstances, it will suggest one of three options - deflect the asteroid with a projectile, send a probe up to take more measurements or send two probes up to both take more measurements and to slightly alter the asteroid's course to make option #1 more viable later.
The key advantage of using a system to analyze the situation is that it can do so quickly and reduce uncertainty by taking a large number of variables into consideration automatically.

"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," said MIT's Sung Wook Paek.

"I'm interested in preventing keyhole passage well before Earth impact. It's like a preemptive strike, with less mess."

Let's just hope that it will be up to the task should such a scenario actually become a reality.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (5)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Removing an asteroid from a likely collision course is a good idea. I don't think we'll ever actually do it...But it's a good idea.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Crikey 4 years ago
My personal response would be to duck and run like hell in a crouched position.. PS- Here are some anti-asteroid interception ideas in survival forums- 1- KINETIC IMPACTOR: a spacecraft that would deliberately crash into an asteroid at high velocity in an effort to alter its trajectory. 2- GRAVITY TRACTOR: a spacecraft that will fly alongside the asteroid for a period and exert a gravitational effect on it. 3- LASER KETTLE: a spacecraft flies alongside an asteroid and uses lasers to heat its surface generating a plume of gas and debris that gives the asteroid a subtle push. 4- ATTACHING ROCKET... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by NCC1701 4 years ago
If you are really worried about a devastating asteroid impact then it is a good thing to visit a psychiatrist. Cheaper than to spend 10xxxxx $ to prevent something that very very probably will never happen in our lifetime.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
I would suggest that people that are not prepared to risk the lives to millions of people to an avoidable tragedy because it, "very probably won't happen in our life time", are probably not the ones in need of psychiatric help. The threats from meteorite impacts are very, VERY real. Have you already forgotten Chelyabinsk? Just seven years ago a SMALL meteor exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and lead to injuries to 1,491 people and caused damage estimated as $33 million (U.S.) The entire point of working out how best to deflect a dangerous asteroid now is that the longer the warnin... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by freetoroam 4 years ago
Recent   Whats to come and what is passing Earth now.   Will not put the past hits and there are too many to list. Some within our lifetime.

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