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What is the Most Effective Way to Protect Earth from Asteroids?

Asteroid protection has always been a complex challenge. Breaking an incoming space rock into pieces could create a dangerous rain of debris. However, redirecting an asteroid’s trajectory by impacting it with another object or using the “gravity tractor” technique of positioning a massive object nearby, could be potential solutions. The key is to detect and assess the threat well in advance.

New Approaches to Protecting Earth

In this episode of Dead Planets Society, hosts Leah Crane and Chelsea Whyte explore fresh ideas for safeguarding our planet from asteroids. They are joined by Andy Rivkin, a planetary astronomer and asteroid expert from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland.

1. Capturing Asteroids with Nets

Rather than sending a mission to the asteroid, one idea discussed is the possibility of designing a net to catch and capture an asteroid. This approach would involve staying relatively close to Earth and intercepting the asteroid’s path.

1.1 Could a Trampoline Effect Help?

Another intriguing concept involves using a tighter mesh material that acts like a trampoline. This material could potentially “bounce” the asteroid towards Mars, utilizing the Red Planet’s gravity to safely divert the object away from Earth.

2. A Shield Orbiting Earth

The notion of a large shield orbiting Earth is also considered. Besides providing protection, any impacts on the shield could potentially produce an audible alert system, providing reassurance that the planet has been saved once again. This concept is playfully dubbed the “asteroid gong.”

About Dead Planets Society

Dead Planets Society is a thought-provoking podcast that takes imaginative ideas about altering the cosmos, such as splitting the moon in half or causing a gravitational wave apocalypse, and examines them through the lens of physics to assess their feasibility.

To listen to the full episode, subscribe to Science Spotlight Weekly or visit our dedicated podcast page here.

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