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Homework Help: Elastic/Inelastic collision

  1. Oct 24, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Let’s say you’re a scientist or engineer working for NASA and you are tasked with the responsibility of diverting an asteroid heading straight for Earth. You know that you must fire a projectile to deflect the asteroid as much as possible (without breaking it into many Earth-destroying pieces!). In the hopes of changing the asteroid’s momentum by the greatest amount, would you want your projectile to make an elastic or inelastic collision with the asteroid? Briefly explain.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I thought that making an inelastic collision would be the best, but probably impossible. Also if we make an elastic collision, wouldn't the projectile head towards Earth after it collides with the asteroid?

    I want to hear your opinions on this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2012 #2
    Which requires more force.

    1. Stop the projectile with a velocity of v (inelastic collision).

    2. Stop the projectile with a velocity of v and then speed up the same projectile with a velocity of v in the opposite direction (elastic collision).
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