How Graffiti May Save the World…
Not to be shown up by Space Invader’s recent explorations of the stratosphere, NASA and other scientists are exploring ways in which spray painting an asteroid could change it’s trajectory.
Despite what Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer might have convinced you with their 1998 block buster Armageddon, a nuclear attack might not be the best solution for averting an asteroid induced apocalypse. It’s widely believed that a nuclear explosion could turn one asteroid into many, so scientists are looking at less destructive solutions for diverting deadly asteroids from their collision course with Earth.
Among ideas involving asteroid eating robots, rocket boosters and carbon-fiber nets, one potential solution under development by David Hyland of Texas A&M is to fly along side an asteroid and paint it with electrically charged powder. Building on the Yarkovsky effect, the idea is to paint specific parts of an asteroid with light or dark paint, changing the effects solar radiation has on the surface of the asteroid. As the sun heats the asteroid, the escaping radiation, dialed up or down based on the shade of paint, acts like tiny rockets and over time can change an asteroid’s orbit.
Hyland and his team are currently raising funding to test this technique in 2021 on the asteroid Apophis with first hardware tests in late 2014 or 2015.
Source: Wired and Discovery