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Fraser
2004-Jul-15, 02:25 AM
SUMMARY: The European Space Agency is considering an ambitious new mission that will attempt to move an asteroid. Named Don Quijote, the mission would include two spacecraft: Sancho and Hidalgo, and launch as early as 2010-2015. The Sancho portion would rendezvous with an asteroid, study in in great detail for seven months, and then watch as Hidalgo smashes into it at tremendous speed. The impact would slightly shift the orbit of the asteroid, and give scientists an understanding of how much force would be required to move future space rocks. Five other missions were considered, including three observation, and two rendezvous missions.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

Tom2Mars
2004-Jul-15, 02:48 AM
Well, my main thought is about one of Newton's laws of motion, the "equal and opposite reaction" one, and that it would be much easier and cheaper to just do the math without going to all the trouble to waste a spacecraft to prove a obvious point.

Another thought I had, was that it would be much more interesting to send a package to an asteroid that would unfold a large solar concentrator, cook some asteroid material, release and capture the volatiles and use another aspect of the solar concentrator to heat up and accelerate the volatiles in a direction which would cause a desired change in orbit and bring the sucker in and do something productive with it.

But that's just my opinion. I know the other kids got into playing marbles, I never quite got into it.

Eric Vaxxine
2004-Jul-15, 08:55 AM
Crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid sounds desperate...

Apocalypse Rock
2004-Jul-15, 10:03 AM
Are they going to blast one apart for testing ?

antoniseb
2004-Jul-15, 10:37 AM
Originally posted by Tom2Mars@Jul 15 2004, 02:48 AM
it would be much more interesting to send a package to an asteroid that would unfold a large solar concentrator, cook some asteroid material, release and capture the volatiles and use another aspect of the solar concentrator to heat up and accelerate the volatiles in a direction which would cause a desired change in orbit and bring the sucker in and do something productive with it.
I think what you are proposing is a reasonable second or third effort in this sort of thing. Looking at the description in the story and the ESA site, I think the stoy is making a lot more of the impact aspect of the mission than it should. The impact is to test and see if a small [compared to the asteroid] impact has the expected effect, or whether the asteroid has does something unexpected. Based on the craters we saw on Eros, I'd have to say it would be a huge surprise if the expected movement didn't happen.

More important is the monitoring of what happens to the asteroid after the collision. Will it be revealed to be a pile of rubble loosely held together by mutual gravity, or is it a mostly solid chunk. I'd guess that most of the sub-kilometer asteroids are one piece with some thin layer of loose debris, but that larger asteroids [like Mathilda for example] are not. So this is a test of one object.

I have agreed with Tom's idea for a long time. Bring that asteroid to an Earth-Moon L4 orbit and use it as a source of Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminum, and Iron. When it gets built up enough, send a few people there to occupy the radiation shielded interior.

Sp1ke
2004-Jul-15, 10:41 AM
I'm with Tom on this. I can't see that we need to fly a spacecraft to an asteroid just to confirm basic physics. All you need to know is what force could be applied and for what duration then you can work out what deflection of the asteroid could be achieved. Thus you can work out how far away you need to detect the asteroid so that you have time to move it away from an impact on the Earth.

I think a more useful mission would be to take a range of deflection ideas to an asteroid and try them all out to see which is most reliable and to get any bugs out of the systems. Then we might be more ready to deal with any dangerous objects we find in the future.

antoniseb
2004-Jul-15, 10:45 AM
Originally posted by Sp1ke@Jul 15 2004, 10:41 AM
I think a more useful mission would be to take a range of deflection ideas to an asteroid and try them all out to see which is most reliable and to get any bugs out of the systems.
I think you are over-estimating the budget the ESA is willing to provide for this mission, and also the technical capabilities that can be implimented today. I think this mission is about as complex as they can manage without Bill Gates throwing about 5 billion dollars at them to do something bigger.

damienpaul
2004-Jul-15, 01:12 PM
I have to agree that bringing the asteroid winto an Earth-Moon Lagrange point could provide some definite benefits, and of course a locus of colonisation. Imagine Bill Gates buying an asteroid...

lswinford
2004-Jul-15, 02:08 PM
The Mariner probes into the moon were photo-taking first and then crashes so we could see what kind of dust got kicked up. NASA seems to have purged its discussions now, but I remember staying up late to watch the JPL pictures on TV, and there was serious concern that with passive accumulation of dust over untold eons of time, we might have a serious problem if we landed in the wrong place. We had a series of those probes just to make sure that there wasn't some sort of dry-quicksand scenario to worry about. Besides, what do you do with a probe when you are done with it and don't have money to continue to monitor it. I recall we've had a few "pull the plug" discussions in the past when NASA found money was tight. ESA's pockets may not be as deep.

antoniseb
2004-Jul-15, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by lswinford@Jul 15 2004, 02:08 PM
The Mariner probes into the moon were photo-taking first and then crashes so we could see what kind of dust got kicked up.
I remember those probes too, the images were very cool.
The series of missions was called "Ranger", not "Mariner".

Here's a web-page that describes the missions
Ranger Missions (http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/ranger.html)

Eric Vaxxine
2004-Jul-15, 04:24 PM
Harnessing an asteroid and towing it here......is it possible? Gravitational assist scenario ? :rolleyes: Here kitty kitty.........

One day it might be one persons life's work to travel for 'X' years to collect something in space and bring it back. :blink:

antoniseb
2004-Jul-15, 04:58 PM
Originally posted by Eric Vaxxine@Jul 15 2004, 04:24 PM
One day it might be one persons life's work to travel for 'X' years to collect something in space and bring it back.
No one would need to be driving a tug-boat for the hundreds of years it might take to cajole an asteroid into an L4 or L5 orbit. There would be a few occasions when someone would need to do something active [like unfurl a solar sail, or mount a fusion power plant on the rotational pole of the asteroid], but that might all be robotic.

Guest
2004-Jul-15, 05:04 PM
I can just see the STAR, ENQUIRER and similar papers headlines:

Europeans launch mission to save world from doomsday asteroid!

France to save world from marauding planet! USA caught sleeping.

NASA helpless as ESA launches ultimate planet buster!

Eric Vaxxine
2004-Jul-16, 08:51 AM
If we were mining a captured asteroid in an orbit, would it need constant direction change as it's mass (gravity) changed? And would the re entry burn in our atmosphere be a viable method for material vapourisation? (to release gases perhaps)?

Guest
2004-Jul-18, 12:14 AM
check these asteroids out

good idea,
let's do it

Algenon the mouse
2004-Jul-18, 02:52 AM
Smashing a space ship into an asteriod?

What happens if you hit it wrong and it goes someplace you do not want it to go?

A few years back a huge whale beached itself on the Oregan Coast. A bunch of "smart" people decided to take care of the whale by blowing it up. A huge crowd gathered to watch the show by these experts that were hired by the local government. After the placed the charges under the whale, the whale blew up, and huge chunks of whale meat landed everywhere. The crowd ran for their lives as the whale meat came crashing down, crushing cars.

This idea sounds like it is from the same group of "smart" experts. I can just see it crashing towards us.

Guest
2004-Jul-18, 11:36 AM
this is a good idea, time for action I think



These things are flying by all the time, comets , meteors..flying past us


Asteroid deflection might be necessary if we discover a big one headed toward Earth

it's a good plan and will give scientists an understanding of how much force would be required to move future space rocks, the probe impact is a pretty good approximation of a bomb

StarLab
2004-Jul-19, 03:10 AM
Algenon, I highly doubt the Agency would make it change course towards us.

Guest_Tom2Mars
2004-Jul-20, 04:35 AM
Anton, re-
I have agreed with Tom's idea for a long time. Bring that asteroid to an Earth-Moon L4 orbit and use it as a source of Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminum, and Iron. When it gets built up enough, send a few people there to occupy the radiation shielded interior.

A belated thanks for the agreement! Is there a list somewhere of the "known" 30 meter to 60 meter candidates to practice with?

And StarLab,
Algenon, I highly doubt the Agency would make it change course towards us.
You have reminded me of something that makes me want to read Robert H. Heinlein's 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' again. It's been years.

lswinford
2004-Aug-02, 10:31 PM
Yep, Ranger it was. I've slept a time or two since then, lol. By the way, I remember there was supposed to be some balsa wood ball about an instrument package. I heard about them before but nothing after. I wonder if that was, to be kind, unsuccessful?

ASEI
2004-Aug-02, 11:50 PM
How large is the asteroid? If it is one of those ones that is thousands of feet across and hundreds of thousands of tons, I doubt anything we could send into space short of a nuke would change its velocity very much. If, on the other hand, it is only a few hundred tons, I think landing a rocket on it and pushing gently may be more efficient. If it were nuclear-thermal, it could use asteroidal materials.

David S
2004-Aug-03, 12:45 AM
Bring that asteroid to an Earth-Moon L4 orbit and use it as a source of Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminum, and Iron.

Am I the only one that thinks this may not be the best idea the human race has ever had? Alter an asteroids course to send it TOWARDS earth and park it in orbit? I only hope that the people resonsible for this mission aren't the same ones who got "meters per second" confused with "feet per second" on the mars mission. :unsure:

I think I'll be hiding under my bed if they try to pull off this stunt.

Tom2Mars
2004-Aug-04, 02:29 AM
Iswinford, re-
By the way, I remember there was supposed to be some balsa wood ball about an instrument package.

I remember the Balsa Ball too! There was an article about it in 'Space World' magazine at the time, which I have buried somewhere in a box. The desert drop tests worked great! I can't remember it they actually got one to the Moon or not. And, it might be that since it was organic, and not metal/plastic, it wasn't "rocket glamour" enough for the scientists/bureaucrats.

I'll google it up.

OK! I'm back. Using "balsa wood ball probe for moon" in Google, a reference to the probe floated to the top of the list, and it was from the 'Bad Astronomy' forum.

Apparently, the Ranger's (1 through 6) were having all kinds of problems, none related to their balsa balls, and the Surveyer missions were coming along. Full Article from Air & Space Magazine at:

Hard Landings (http://www.airspacemag.com/ASM/Mag/Index/1997/JJ/hdld.html)

lswinford
2004-Aug-10, 06:55 PM
Wonderful article, Tom, thanks a bunch.

Astro, btw, I seem to recall from the discussions back in the days that Gerard O'Neal was talking cities in space, that one of the alternatives (raised by another on that fad of the day) was to nudge an asteroid to a safe earth orbit and our future orbiting colonists would mine it for iron and drop it into carefully planned reentry routes. O'Neal pictured plopping aluminum foam (made from metal mined on the moon) "lifting bodies" (as the early shuttle reentry models were called) into the earth's oceans where appropriate company tugboats then nudge them to an appropriate Alcoa (or whoever won the bid) dock where they would be carved up, melted and recast according to need. He also said that in the future, those lifting bodies would contain precast to order metal products. Future earth dwellers would insist that dirty industries be moved to space and their products dropped to earth, bringing the planet into a more pristine condition. But then, if O'Neal's picture took place, we might find it more advantageous to simply move a city to an asteroid zone, take orders for metal parts and drop them into an earth-intercept trajectory, where local space tugs then captured and directed them to earth entry. I liked that idea, moving the industry to the rocks, better than moving the rocks to industry.

ASEI
2004-Aug-10, 11:50 PM
Future earth dwellers would insist that dirty industries be moved to space and their products dropped to earth
Trust me, no one but the NIMBY idiots would be insisting that. What else is going to employ people here on earth, but industry? Without an even trade in industrial wealth, the space colonists have no reason to send anything back to earth. Without jobs here on Earth, people will be too poor to care about or support a space program.


advantageous to simply move a city to an asteroid zone, take orders for metal parts and drop them into an earth-intercept trajectory, where local space tugs then captured and directed them to earth entry
True, depending on the size of the asteroid and the feasability of moving that much mass.

Balsa wood is pourous. It would leak air and water in a vacuum.

tim,
2004-Aug-11, 01:45 AM
Originally posted by Sp1ke@Jul 15 2004, 10:41 AM
I'm with Tom on this. I can't see that we need to fly a spacecraft to an asteroid just to confirm basic physics. All you need to know is what force could be applied and for what duration then you can work out what deflection of the asteroid could be achieved. Thus you can work out how far away you need to detect the asteroid so that you have time to move it away from an impact on the Earth.

I think a more useful mission would be to take a range of deflection ideas to an asteroid and try them all out to see which is most reliable and to get any bugs out of the systems. Then we might be more ready to deal with any dangerous objects we find in the future.
i would like to know if its being done as preperation as i read that there might be a need to direct an asteroid into our gravatational pull to move the earth away from the sun to make our atmosphere cooler due to global warming

zephyr46
2004-Aug-11, 06:12 AM
http://szyzyg.arm.ac.uk/~spm/local_map.html, there is no shortage of close objects to try and capture, most of them notable for their small size.

http://szyzyg.arm.ac.uk/~spm/neo_map.html

Don Quijote, whats so special?

lswinford
2004-Aug-18, 03:56 PM
ASEI, I believe the general discussion was that in moving 'dirty industries' into space we would have to move still more people into the space cities. Eventually there would be a sustainable economic mass, drawing still more people into orbiting cities (O'Neal believed that massive rotating cylindars made from lunar materials held more advantages than surface structures on the Moon or Mars) for the economic advantages. There would be people moving to space for health advantages (constantly cleaner air inside the housing vessels, perhaps a richer oxygen content, to help those with lung problems; some urban vessels might rotate a little more slowly so the smaller centrifigal force would simulate a lighter gravity to aid those with weaker hearts, etc.). One writer (whose name I have forgotten) suggests that in a few centuries the center of human population might not even be on earth and that earth might be left with a population of only one or two billion people who are escaping the population and economic pressures of space. It was both a wonder and a laugh to read those things.

Consider this, to illustrate the economic effects of development, that when Europeans came to the Americas the effects were slow and often disasterous at the beginning. But in some places development and immigration got really serious. A few population centers grew prosperous and inhabitants numerous, becoming fruitful trees branching out further and further. French development around Quebec and New Orleans, for instance, quickly became substantial even though much of the land they claimed further inland was scarsely touched. Eventually, in the North American story, Mexico, the United States, and Canada developed along their unique cultural lines with their unique mix of resources and abilities, most of which happened largely independent of their European roots (much to the great cost and loss of the Indians who lived there before the Europeans came). The nice thing here is there are no space-'Indians' to fight, assuming there really are no 'little green men' on Mars. The economic share of the United States causes more than a few jealous sneers and snarls around the world, some six centuries after Columbus. If we followed the road map of Gerard O'Neal and other such space development visionaries, then in six centuries, we earthlings might be doing similar snarling and sneering at those powerful, affluent, and pretentious Space Federation people who come to visit earth like it is present-day Botswana, constantly saying, "how quaint!" or "its all so dirty!".

Guest
2004-Nov-15, 12:53 AM
first of all i doubt the thing about the whale story but there is another idea to blow up the asteroids B)

petey duncan
2005-Jun-17, 03:06 PM
Anyone ever play the video game asteriods? Well we would be throwing a random chaotic into the flight path equation that would make this and any other asteroids it contacts unpredictable.If we thought tracking these things and predicting was hard before look out!

wstevenbrown
2005-Jun-17, 09:37 PM
I have agreed with Tom's idea for a long time. Bring that asteroid to an Earth-Moon L4 orbit and use it as a source of Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminum, and Iron. When it gets built up enough, send a few people there to occupy the radiation shielded interior.

I agree with you both. A mostly-spent comet core, with ice and granulates, could be made to work in the same way as Antarctic research. With 30-100 cubic kilometers to work with, for a modest investment in instrumentation, might we not have a mobile laboratory for cosmic/solar neutrino research, UHECR research, 'ordinary' space-based telescopes, solar weather monitoring, and the like?

The same folks minding the research equipment could mind the propulsion system-- and they'd have a vested interest in making sure the pointings were accurate and the thrusts properly administered. Both their data quality and their continued survival would depend on it.

Such a program would reap incalculable research benefits before the orbital changes were even well-started.

Now if we can just convince some industrial magnate that his place in history will be assured...

Best regards-- Steve

piersdad
2005-Jun-17, 09:53 PM
I remember the Balsa Ball too! There was an article about it in

funny how some thing in space research turns up some where else the latest racing yachts use a layer of end grain balsa and over laid with fibreglass and carbon fibre and its very impact resistant as well as very light and strong

qraal
2005-Jun-19, 01:37 AM
Hi All

Some misconceptions about the planned mission need to be cleared up.

Firstly, the mission is designed to get an idea of the interior structure and strength of the asteroid. Many asteroids on danger orbits could be just about any structure - lose rubble piles, to porous asphalt coated ice, to solid stone or asteroid steel. Thus an impact probe is needed to get a good idea of what this particular class of asteroids is like. If the roids are indeed rubble piles then bombs won't touch them because the relatively loose material dissipates shockwaves very efficiently. This has been tested on Earth and is the cause of very odd cratering on asteroids already probed. Loose regolith is a great shock-absorber.

Secondly, moving asteroids into nearby orbits is dumb for a number of reasons. It wastes a lot of asteroid material and it takes immensely powerful rocketry. Better to process material in situ and fling it to Earth-Moon space with mass-drivers or smaller rockets. Small packages from an asteroid can be aerobraked safely and this would be more economical than shifting an asteroid that can't be aserobraked. Also low-thrust orbits typically require twice the delta-vee that brief impulse orbits do. While that's fine when using ion-drives to do so using NTRs or solar rockets is just plain wasteful.

qraal

gofree
2005-Jun-19, 03:57 AM
Which way do they rotate once enter into the earths atmosphere?