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Thread: The best way to move an asteroid.

  1. #1
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    The best way to move an asteroid.

    Hypothetically, if it were benificial to move asteroids to mars. What would the best way to do it?
    Would it be by setting of a series of nuclear bombs behind them?
    Is there any other means?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plainead View Post
    Hypothetically, if it were benificial to move asteroids to mars. What would the best way to do it?
    Would it be by setting of a series of nuclear bombs behind them?
    Is there any other means?
    No nukes !! If you manage to blow the asteroid apart, where will the pieces go?

    I would suggest land on the asteroid, install an ion engine, and gently push said asteroid to where you want it.

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    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    If you have time and good orbital coordination, the Yarkovky effect looks useful. Even with ion thrusters or nuclear detonations, I imagine for long term moves this effect would be used for most of the heavy lifting and the other methods used for fine tuning the orbit in the final stages of the operation.

    And John, you know nuclear engineering of asteroids is determined by their composition. We'd probably land on it first anyway before we knew we wanted it for anything.

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarkovsky_effect

    The heat given off by different parts of a tumbling or spinning object, affects its path like a small photon drive or solar sail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Mendenhall View Post
    No nukes !!
    Agree 100%. Nukes don't actually make an explosion. What they do is generate a humongous amount of hard radiation. When set off in the atmosphere/under water/underground, the radiation is absorbed by the material in the immediate vicinity, and that expands explosively.

    But in space, it has no material immediately around it. Or if set off next to an asteroid, it'll heat up the asteroid and that will expand explosively, although not necessarily in the direction desired. But half the radiation will not be stopped. If your ship is within line-of-sight, it's going to get a huge dose. Could fry electronics and do bad things to organic beings. Even if you put the asteroid in between the nuke and ship, the ship may still get lots of radiation.

    If you manage to blow the asteroid apart, where will the pieces go?
    My understanding is that most small asteroids are fairly fragile, more loose collections of rocks than solid objects. This is the result of 4.6 billion years of collisions. So it's going to be real easy to blow one apart.

    I would suggest land on the asteroid, install an ion engine, and gently push said asteroid to where you want it.
    If the asteroid is the usual loose collection, that may not work.

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    how about a trebuchet
    just fling rocks

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    I would guess nukes might work. Wouldn't something like a trigger delay on a deep penetration missile serve to alter the bulk of its trajectory plus make the particle sizes of any that hit our atmosphere small enough to have little effect. A few secondary conventional missiles might be needed for the larger debris, perhaps.

    If there is no penetration, then the exploding (matter to gas) side of the asteroid would be like the Yakovsky effect turbo charged.

    [I'm not suggesting this as the best approach given the chaos of the event, but at least a back-up plan Willis might go for.]
    Last edited by George; 2016-May-19 at 04:17 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nota View Post
    how about a trebuchet
    just fling rocks
    Acme has those on sale, I think.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    So what is the "best" way depends on a lot of variables, like what size, structure and composition of asteroid, how much you need to alter its course, and how much time you have before it gets to its target.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Mendenhall View Post
    No nukes !! If you manage to blow the asteroid apart, where will the pieces go?
    Not if it is a good nickle/iron slug.

    For defection only--the Orion pulse units actually look pretty good: http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=18971

    Scott and I had a discussion about truly moving an asteroid with authority.

    You really need high Isp and high thrust. NSWRs (which he takes a dim view of) seem to have the most umpf.

    I'm sorry--but I don't think much of the gravity tractor deal for (immediate) threats. You need a Rosetta type matching trajectory. That's before you can even BEGIN the mission.

    A nuke in place of DEEP IMPACT's copper disk--that would only need a fly-by trajectory.

    More mass-energy--less time.

    For a simple deflection--a Deep Impact

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    I'm sorry--but I don't think much of the gravity tractor deal for (immediate) threats.
    Don't be sorry, I did say above that one of the variables that makes a difference is how much time you have. Immediate threats are in a different category than long term threats.
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    but I see a big rock as a opportunity not a threat
    if you can control it's orbit not to hit the earth but come close
    to be a source of stuff without needing to lift the stuff off earth

    and a core to build a big station or factory or mine or planet bus
    or even a starship if we can find the power for it [controlled fusion]

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    btw
    a very odd thought on flinging stuff

    action reaction basic idea
    what if you could recover much of the stuff to refling it endlessly
    and get an energy impact help when it lands/hits also

    basicly fling small robot space craft at just a bit under escape velocity
    with just enough fuel to get back in a controlled impact to add dV by hitting the right spot
    and do it endlessly

    could that work ?
    or just too rube goldburg ?

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    Deflection might be accomplished with a Podkletnov-Poher beam,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plainead View Post
    Hypothetically, if it were benificial to move asteroids to mars. What would the best way to do it?
    Would it be by setting of a series of nuclear bombs behind them?
    Is there any other means?
    If you're not in a hurry, just wait for one to hit Mars by itself.

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    "Crash course in saving the Earth: Chinese simulation stops asteroid strike without using nukes"

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/scie...stops-asteroid

    Chinese scientists have come up with an ingenious alternative to nuclear obliteration for neutralising the threat of potentially Earth-shattering asteroids – staging a cosmic collision to knock the offending rocky mass off course.
    Ever since discovering that a 10km-diameter (6 mile-diameter) asteroid was most likely to blame for the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, the world’s scientific community has been looking for ways to ensure the human race does not suffer the same fate.
    While Nasa has long advocated the use of nuclear weapons to neutralise the threat of so-called potentially hazardous asteroids, detonating a warhead in space is not without its problems or controversy.
    The alternative, according to a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is to send an unmanned spacecraft out to meet the incoming threat and deflect it out of harm’s way.

    However, to have sufficient heft to do that, the spacecraft must first bulk up, which it does by collecting rocks from a near-Earth asteroid en route.
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    If we can ever deal with the heating issues—the NSWR rocket will give you both high specific impulse and high thrust...but the asteroid rotation will be a pain to deal with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    If we can ever deal with the heating issues—the NSWR rocket will give you both high specific impulse and high thrust...but the asteroid rotation will be a pain to deal with.
    You also need to avoid having the nuclear salt water rocket blowing itself up, which may not be easy.

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    While Nasa has long advocated the use of nuclear weapons to neutralise the threat of so-called potentially hazardous asteroids...
    Is this a true statement? The context suggests NASA has advocated trying to blow up a large asteroid. Almost no credible organization or agency would think nuclear warheads would "obliterate" an asteroid that size (or any appreciable size). Some proposed methods have suggested a series of denotations to slightly alter the orbit (with enough lead time) to cause an impactor to miss, but this has always been one of a list of options that need significantly more research to determine what would work for any given object.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Is this a true statement? The context suggests NASA has advocated trying to blow up a large asteroid...
    I had the same reaction. I thought the ďblow it upĒ solution was relegated to Hollywood.


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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Is this a true statement? The context suggests NASA has advocated trying to blow up a large asteroid. Almost no credible organization or agency would think nuclear warheads would "obliterate" an asteroid that size (or any appreciable size). Some proposed methods have suggested a series of denotations to slightly alter the orbit (with enough lead time) to cause an impactor to miss, but this has always been one of a list of options that need significantly more research to determine what would work for any given object.
    From MIT recently: http://news.mit.edu/2020/how-deflect...d-mission-0219

    But you are right - the article says that in 2007 using nuclear detonations to deflect an asteroid was seen as the most feasible method by NASA. It was never about creating a large cloud of smaller impactors. Not sure anyone would think that a good idea!

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    Iíve seen blowing up an asteroid mentioned seriously once or twice, but I donít know how well it has been studied. Basically it is meant as a desperate action if you donít have time to reach the asteroid at distance, and mostly focused on smaller city killer asteroids that might get close before detection. The idea is that it might be possible to spread out a smaller asteroid with a large nuke, with follow-ups for large remaining pieces still likely to hit the earth.

    Iíve also seen something similar for a larger asteroid, but with a super-bomb much larger than anything built (gigaton range). But how would you build and place that in time?

    Asteroid mass is a major limitation of the technique, and remaining massive split off pieces would be a major concern.

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    If you have enough time and resources, send the nano factories, and turn it into saleable goods and spaceships.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    If you have enough time and resources, send the nano factories, and turn it into saleable goods and spaceships.
    You know, kinda I like this idea. Moving the entire asteroid seems like a wasted effort. Why move the entire asteroid when you might only be able to use 50% or even 75% of it. Collect the "good stuff" and leave the rest.
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    My design for a gravity tractor is slightly different to the one described in the wiki article. To ensure that the craft's centre of gravity is as close to the asteroid as possible, I suggest taking a large, stout bag with you, and filling it up with rocks from the asteroid's surface. This bag, when full, can be trailed behind the tug on a tether as ballast, so that the thrusters can be further away from the asteroid and they won't need to be angled so sharply away from the surface. The weighted bag would dangle just above the asteroid, so that it is just outside its volume of rotation.

    A problem with this is that many small asteroids spin so fast that they would not have much material on the surface, so there would be less easily-gatherable material to use as ballast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    My design for a gravity tractor is slightly different to the one described in the wiki article. To ensure that the craft's centre of gravity is as close to the asteroid as possible, I suggest taking a large, stout bag with you, and filling it up with rocks from the asteroid's surface. This bag, when full, can be trailed behind the tug on a tether as ballast, so that the thrusters can be further away from the asteroid and they won't need to be angled so sharply away from the surface. The weighted bag would dangle just above the asteroid, so that it is just outside its volume of rotation.

    A problem with this is that many small asteroids spin so fast that they would not have much material on the surface, so there would be less easily-gatherable material to use as ballast.
    Also, the problem of landing on/docking with a rotating asteroid. An elaborate process under the best of circumstances.
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    This is why I go on about the asteroid bola concept. Land at the pole. Deploy cutting cable that later acts as tether. Move the two bits apart. Release tether and the two segments move apart on new orbits

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    This is why I go on about the asteroid bola concept. Land at the pole. Deploy cutting cable that later acts as tether. Move the two bits apart. Release tether and the two segments move apart on new orbits
    What keeps the asteroid segments whole?
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    I'm sort of responding in general, because the topic seems to have strayed. The original question doesn't seem (to me) about deflecting dangerous asteroids but rather moving them to Mars.

    Hypothetically, if it were benificial to move asteroids to mars. What would the best way to do it?
    I assume the rationale would be to deliver something to Mars for colonization or something like that. So in that case, it might be also worth considering that you could mine whatever you want from the asteroid and just shoot that toward Mars using some kind of gun.

    But I'm kind of curious. Is there anything that is unavailable on Mars that you would find in an asteroid?
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