4 approaches depending on circumstances
* Civil defense (evacuation, sheltering, first aid, etc.
– Up to 50 meter in diameter?
* Slow Push-Pull (tug, solar heating, albedo change, gravity tractor, et al.)
– Needs decades to operate (plus time to build, etc.)
– Max size 300-600 m diameter
– Gravity tractor closest to ready and least dependent on properties of NEO
* Kinetic Impacts (Super Deep Impact)
– sensitive to porosity of top meters to tens of meters
– momentum transfer efficiency not known
– much wider range of applicability (max size 1 to 1.5 km, shorter warning for small ones)
– standoff blast best
– works up to 10 km and relatively short warning
* Don Quixote-like mission
– a rendezvous spacecraft at a small NEO followed by a large impactor
– biggest gain in knowledge directly related to mitigation
– Guess $1.5G; Good for international collaboration
* Gravity tractor demonstration
– fewer unknowns other than engineering
– second priority
* Apophis a possible target but any small NEO will do
– Can’t predict which might need to be used first
– Small NEO is by far the most likely
– Warning time very uncertain but short warnings are likely at ~100m diameter or less
– Momentum transfer
– Warning times
– Tails of orbital distribution
– NEO properties – spin and shape, multiplicity, and especially porosity and density
– lots for science but not so much for hazard mitigation
– hence radar programs at Arecibo and Goldstone
– Physics of airbursts
– search strategy – death plunge vs. full survey
– Effects of the wide range of NEO properties on the mitigation strategy
– tsunami generation
– NEO disruption
The Near-Earth Object Survey spacecraft proposed by Ball Aerospace would prowl for hazardous NEOs and astronaut targets from a Venus-like orbit. The Target NEO workshop recommended NASA compete such a survey telescope as its earliest and highest priority exploration precursor mission. (Ball Aerospace)
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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