Swarm of 'fingernail-sized' pebbles 'may easily deflect incoming asteroids'
London, May 6 (ANI): Hurtling pebbles at an asteroid certainly seems like a futile task, but a new study has suggested that this could ward off the Earthbound space rock.
Startlingly, it just takes a relatively minor push to deflect an asteroid, if it is done quite a few years before the projected impact.
Earlier suggestions comprise landing an engine on the asteroid to push it away from a collision, and using mirrors or lasers to vaporise its surface and supply thrust to shift its course.
However, Alison Gibbings and Massimiliano Vasile, aerospace engineers at the University of Strathclyde, UK, have another way out.
The researchers calculated that a 500-kilogram swarm of fingernail-sized spacecraft would deflect a fast-moving, 250-metre asteroid by almost 35,000 kilometres - easily enough to evade a collision, provided the mass hits eight years, or around three orbits, before the expected Earth impact.
A swarm could be launched from Earth in a single rocket. After release, pebbles could harness the thrust provided by reflected sunlight to steer themselves into a tight cloud directed at the asteroid, the New Scientist reported.
According to the researchers, the best part is that each pebble would be too small to crack the asteroid into still-dangerous pieces. (ANI)
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