China publishes plans to avoid asteroid collision

Robert Clatt

23 Long March 5 rockets could work together to keep the asteroid Bennu off the Earth’s collision course.


Beijing (China). Gareth Collins of Imperial College London has calculated that there is a one percent chance that it will reach a height of one hundred meters in the next 100 years. asteroid It will hit the ground. According to forecasts, the risk of a larger asteroid such as Bennu (500 meters in diameter) colliding with Earth during this period is 0.1%. An asteroid more than one kilometer in size will have global consequences for the planet.


About 150 new asteroids are discovered near Earth every month. The data from so-called Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) now consists of about 20,000 objects. The astronomy But it is assumed that many smaller asteroids have not yet been identified. The impact of the Chelyabinsk meteorite (20 meters in diameter) in 2013 shows, among other things, that these objects also pose a high risk.


Defend asteroids with missiles

For this reason, many space travel nations are now working on ways to defend against asteroids, including China. Its National Space Science Center is recently investigating how the asteroid Bennu has been diverted. This will be possible according to a simulation by 23 Long March 5 missilesWhich collided with the asteroid and thus changed its course.

This object was chosen because it is on the list of potentially dangerous asteroids that will approach Earth in the next 150 years. Impact Risk Estimates Science But at a very low rate

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Missiles as a Kinetic Collider

“The proposal to convert the upper stage of the launch pad into a main rocket for asteroid deflecting is a very beautiful concept,” Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast’s Astrophysics Research Center said of the Chinese simulation. In the research, there is agreement that so-called “kinetic shocks” are the only way to change the asteroid’s orbit.

The rockets would have shot the asteroid back its previous trajectory like a billiard ball. According to Fitzsimmons, the increase in mass that the rocket will emit when it collides with the asteroid will be sufficient for this. However, this has so far been only a theoretical approach, and its implementation has not yet been planned. On the other hand, blowing up asteroids in the Earth’s collision path should not be an appropriate method, because it will only smash the asteroid into individual pieces, and then hit the Earth individually.

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