An MIT graduate student has devised a plan to save the world from destruction by an inbound asteroid using a novel weapon: interplanetary paintballs. Sung Wook Paek of the Cambridge, Massachsetts, brainiac academy's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics – affectionately known as AeroAstro – entered his asteroid-deflecting …
@Ru - Re: Is this a joke?
Nuke wrote : "I do not know much about the solar sail effect, but"
Ru responded :- "So what you're saying is, you don't know what you're talking about but you're willing to rubbish work"
Quite a flame that. Seeing that almost everyone here is poking fun at the idea (painting logos etc), I just wonder why you got as far down as my comment before you came out. Especially as I was actually taking it more seriously than most and discussing the science.
I was up front with the fact that I do not know the solar sail effect. The guts of my comment refers to the paintball momentum idea. OK, lets's get more technical. I am pointing out that the momentum imparted by placing a thin later of paint on this thing is so tiny in proportion to the asteroid's momentum that it would have to be such a long time ahead of earth impact that the prediction of its future path would be unreliable. It is TFA itself that mentions the paint momentum effect as being, though less, of some significance compared with the solar sail effect. I am saying that if - IF - that is true, say within two orders of magnitude, then the solar sail idea is also impractical.
As for saying that I "know practically nothing about astrophysics and orbital mechanics", be careful what you claim about other's knowledge here. This is a techies' website after all. I don't know if you know these subjects or not yourself, but what is certain is that you know almost nothing about me. I think you might be surprised.
Re: Is this a joke?
Trouble is that some asteroids aren't solid but rather clusters held together by gravity. Blow one of the chunks off, and it'll likely take all the energy, leaving the rest intact. There's also the fact that many asteroid rotate on axes, meaning you have to fight their rotation as well. The effects of a nuke on a corner of an irregular, spinning cluster of rocky objects moving at a surprisingly speedy clip (closer to the sun, the faster it goes) is rather uncertain, but most scientists basically sum it up as "not much".
I remember reading a Sci-Fi novel years ago (can't remember the title or author) about a scientist who proposed a very similar idea and was discredited.
Later he learned of an asteroid on a collision course with earth and tried to get the governments to paint the asteroid white and blast it with high-powered lasers. He was fired and took a job on the moon in an automated mining operation which had on-site manufacturing. He set the automated plant to making lots of high-power solar powered communications lasers and then fired them at the approaching asteroid to deflect it using light pressure.
Same basic principle. His prize should be stripped from him for "prior art".
Would be one hell of a marketing project...
I thought it was Anubis who got the bright idea of flinging giant rocks at Earth...