Thursday, September 1, 2011
Most of the discussion about near Earth asteroids focuses on whether they represent a threat to Earth and what to do take if they turn out to be heading our way.
But today, Hexi Baoyin and pals at Tsinghua University in Beijing offer a different take. The question they ask is how to place an asteroid in orbit around the Earth.
Their conclusion is a little surprising. They say it’s relatively straightforward to nudge a small asteroid in our direction. They’ve even discovered a number of candidates nearby that we might want to bring as little closer.
A particularly good candidate is a 10-meter object called 2008EA9 which will pass within a million kilometres or so of Earth in 2049. 2008EA9 has a very similar orbital velocity as Earth’s. Baoyin and co calculate that it could be fired into Earth orbit by changing its velocity by 410 metres per second. That’s tiny.
This nudge should place the asteroid in an orbit at about twice the distance of the Moon. From there it can be studied and mined, they say.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 2:36 am