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Thread: How To Save the World From Asteroid Impact: Plastic Wrap

  1. #1
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    How To Save the World From Asteroid Impact: Plastic Wrap

    Remember a competition we reported on back in April called "Move An Asteroid"? It was an international technical paper competition looking for unique and innovative concepts for how to deflect an asteroid or comet that might be on a collision course for Earth. The winners have been announced and first prize went to [...]

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  2. #2
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    I'm sure Du Pont would be thrilled to get the contract...
    But realistically, how much reflective material are we talking about here?
    How would it be applied?
    How effective is it, especially with larger bodies?

  3. #3
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    I cannot find the paper online anywhere. I think it would take quite a long time to wrap half the asteroid and quite a long time for light pressure to impart a significant impulse. It's not clear to me how differential light pressure would work if the asteroid is rotating about an axis more or less perpendicular to its orbit. Actually just coating the whole thing would change its orbit, so I'm not sure why the article specifies coating half the asteroid.

  4. #4
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    It seems more economical to me to just send Bruce Willis up there...


    He can operate a giant Fire House looking thingy mounted atop an X-72˝ that shoots out a reflective gooeey gorp juice all over the asteroid. Yelling "Yippee Kayay!"

  5. #5
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    New Scientist magazine used to have a column of spoof ideas called "Daedalus". Once in a while, they turned out actually to be good better ideas than he imagined.

    "Daedalus" once suggested coating the earth-facing hemisphere of the moon with a mono-molecular layer of titanium dioxide. It would require remarkably little of the stuff, the greater difficulty is dispersing it. Daedalus's purpose was to increase reflectivity, but he wasn't trying to deflect the moon. He wanted to increase illumination at night to save energy used for street-lights, etc. It is quite remarkable how much light the moon already gives us with an albedo of just 12%. We think of the moon as silvery or pale when actually it is very dark grey. I think titanium dioxide, even just as a powder finish, would probably increase the albedo by a factor of 5 or so.

    I think TiO2 powder might be a lot simpler to apply than mylar film to cover a hemisphere of an asteroid. For the Mylar film, probably Christo would be willing to do it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo

    I wonder how such surfaces (mylar, a very thin layer of Ti02) would age exposed to space weather?
    Last edited by Ivan Viehoff; 2008-Aug-26 at 04:05 PM. Reason: Edited to write what I meant to say

  6. #6
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    OK. Now that we've got it wrapped, who can we give it to?

    (Wikipedia: the Echo 2 satellite, 41-meter diameter)
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...
    Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. --Carl Sagan

  7. #7
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    Let's face it, if you make a thread where the title appears on the main page as "How to save the world", everybody will want to read it.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Let's face it, if you make a thread where the title appears on the main page as "How to save the world", everybody will want to read it.
    and at the same time everyone will know the thread will be ridiculous, and yet we still enter

  9. #9
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    Because who doesn't want to save the world?
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

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