Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Killer Asteroids

  1. Oct 19, 2013 #1
    As far as avoiding a killer asteroid in the future, I have what I consider to be a simple solution. Japan has already demonstrated the technology of landing a spacecraft on an asteroid, so what could be more simple than to land on an asteroid, rotate the landing engine 180 degrees, fire it up and literally push the asteroid into another trajectory? We could strategically post these craft orbiting the moon, Mars, etc. for immediate deployment. Nuclear power for straight-line travel and chemical fuel for rocket control.
    It's true I probably don't know what I'm talking about, bringing my high school education to bear. But, it sure sounds like the solution to me.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2013 #2

    mathman

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The major problem is time constraint. From the time a killer asteroid is discovered, is there enough time to do what is needed to change its trajectory?
     
  4. Oct 19, 2013 #3

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The problem with asteroids is one of ambush. If it is detected only days before impact, that is a big problem. We do not have launch ready anti-asteroid kits sitting around. It has been estimated we would need to detect a collision bound asteroid at least 6 months prior to impact to mount a realistic defense. Even then, the efficacy of such defensive ideas is untested. The priority at present is detecting all the disaster size asteroids in our vicinity, which is surprisingly difficult for a number of reasons. At present, it is thought we have catalogued only 10-15% of them.
     
  5. Oct 21, 2013 #4
    I'm actually working on a system right now. I've got a website setup, still trying to iron out all the details. The later phases of the project are a little 'out there' but the initial phases are most certainly doable right now. www.tregsproject.com [Broken] is my website. If you'd like to assist me in hashing out the details, maybe we can make this as a legitimate proposal to NASA or some other entity who would like to see this come to light.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Oct 22, 2013 #5

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Gaia can do all of this. To detect asteroids, it is not necessary to go far away from earth. You might be lucky and get closer to some asteroid by a factor of 2 - but you need much more time and more fuel (-> less useful payload) to send probes to other planets.

    Building a new satellite is cheaper than repairing one in some remote location.
    You don't need a grid of satellites, a few relay station around frequently visited objects will do the job.

    That depends on their size. For objects with a diameter of more than 1km close to our orbit, it is expected that most of them (80%? 90%? Don't remember) are known. Those are the global killers - an asteroid with a diameter of 100m can destroy a city, but it won't end our civilization.
     
  7. Oct 22, 2013 #6
    This is quite interesting, and I admit I'd never heard of gaia before now. It's interesting how it works. I could see that doing a fair job, but the problem still remains it's too difficult to see an incoming asteroid due to how dark it is until the very last moment. We have no early detection system.

    My view of our stance on space and science is that it's very mediocre. I would like to see mankind ACTIVELY in space. I mean full gear, massive space stations capable of housing several thousand people, space ships capable of traveling between these stations, from there missions to various planets and moons. But none of this is capable without the ability to detect and prevent these stations from being struck by space objects like meteors and asteroids. I kind of feel like it's going to be impossible to get mankind into space like that without the foundation of protection, and that nearly requires an early detection system. I don't think even the Gaia project can settle that. Fact is, asteroids and meteors are nearly undetectable at long distances and by the time we do detect them it's far too late. I would love to see what the Gaia satellite can do, but I don't think it's a suitable detection system to map out the entire solar system in real time for an accurate and effective early detection system.
     
  8. Oct 22, 2013 #7

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    If the ability to detect asteroids with a size of 200m basically everywhere in the inner solar system is not an early detection system, what is one?

    There are many challenges for such a vision, detectable asteroids are a small issue in that respect.
     
  9. Oct 22, 2013 #8
    The fact that the project has a 5 year life span, only points in a specific direction and can only detect in that direction, means that this is not an early detection system at all. An early detection system would be real-time, would not be ended, and would be able to see in all directions all the time.

    This is why I created my other thread "Occupying Space", for that discussion.
     
  10. Oct 22, 2013 #9

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Gaia does not point in a specific direction, it rotates.
    Asteroids don't magically appear in the solar system*. With observation arcs of 5 years, you can calculate their future position at least several decades in advance, and you know when the predictions will lose their accuracy. You don't have to look at them all the time.

    *comets do that in some way, but they are rare. And Gaia is certainly not the last telescope...
     
  11. Oct 22, 2013 #10
    I suppose that is true. I think the only problem with that theory are the asteroids that enter the solar system that are not part of the Oort Cloud. I would imagine that something like that is not entirely unfeasible, and in that case I would assume we would want to continue the project on going. I didn't realize it rotated though, which is a good measure. I suppose my thought process is that there should be ongoing 360 degree observation from space for a very long time, not just to map things out, but to catch things as they happen. i can imagine we've missed multiple events in space out and about just because our telescopes weren't pointed in that direction.
     
  12. Oct 22, 2013 #11

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    There are networks to catch rare events like gamma ray bursts or nearby supernovae.
     
  13. Oct 22, 2013 #12

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The number of NEO's is pretty uncertain. NASA, for example, claims about 90% of NEO's 1 km or larger have been catalogued - which is a somewhat comforting number. LSST, on the other hand, estimates less that 20% of such objects have been catalogued (re: http://www.lsst.org/lsst/public/neoquant [Broken]), which is much less comforting. I tend to lean to the pessimistic side. Many asteroids have low albedos making detection difficult to nearly impossible. Rogue asteroids are another unknown. They can, and are randomly flung our direction from the far reaches of the solar system. The potential consequences are so great some sort of early warning system is a luxury we really can't afford not to indulge, IMO.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  14. Oct 22, 2013 #13

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Wow ... I'd like to have some of what you're smoking if you think that's even remotely likely any time soon. The technical challenges are non-trivial, BUT ... they ARE trivial compared to the economic/political problems. Who do you think would pay for all that?
     
  15. Oct 22, 2013 #14
    Chronos, I would have to agree. NASA didn't even know about the 7 football field large asteroid that nearly hit the earth, and it wasn't even reported on until nearly a month later. This is simply unacceptable, but with the current setup we have, it's the best we can do. That's why I put the T.R.E.G.S. System out there, to be discussed and hopefully if the countries of the world would put their minds together, could accomplish it. I'm still putting the website together, but you can take a look at www.tregsproject.com [Broken]. I just got done with some simple mathematical calculations and have been able to make some determinations on about how big this project would have to be. What do you think?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Oct 22, 2013 #15
    You can kindly squash that kind of insult, thank you.

    I refer you to my other thread I started for this conversation: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=718173
     
  17. Oct 22, 2013 #16

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't see that on the website.

    Well, searches are getting better and better, but the number of new discoveries in the category km+ decreases, while the number of discoveries for smaller asteroids goes up - a good indication that we discovered most big objects that do not hide somewhere far away most of the time. I expect significant improvements from Gaia here - it is supposed to (at least) double the number of known objects in the solar system.
     
  18. Oct 22, 2013 #17

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I see that rather than address my criticism, you are attempting to deflect it by objecting to my wording. So back to the question --- who DO you think would pay for all that stuff you mentioned?
     
  19. Oct 22, 2013 #18
    I haven't put the math on the website yet.

    phinds, I responded to your question in two parts. The first part was to address your insult. The second was a link where I have already answered your question. feel free to carry that conversation on in a thread that directly addresses it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  20. Oct 22, 2013 #19

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    No, that thread does not even begin to answer my question. You have no proposal that is in any way realistic as to how all that would be paid for.
     
  21. Oct 22, 2013 #20
    Why does that even concern you? If someone comes up with the money it will happen, if not it won't. I didn't address it because I don't limit human advancement by how much money I have in my pocket. I don't have a specific way of how or who will fund this, and it's no one's concern right now. I'll look for sponsoring support once the project is laid out and we can get a price guesstimate, which is how all large projects work. Does that answer your question?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Killer Asteroids
  1. Killer App! (Replies: 3)

  2. Uses of asteroids? (Replies: 8)

  3. Asteroid density (Replies: 4)

  4. Asteroid Composition (Replies: 9)

Loading...