An asteroid that could fall.
If the asteroid Apophysis falls to Earth in 2036, the explosion power is 400 megatons.
An American company has won a tender for the construction of a spacecraft capable of preventing the asteroid Apophysis from colliding with Earth.
In January, this space giant flew at a distance of only half a million kilometers from our planet (by astronomical standards, this is negligible). According to scientists, the asteroid will approach us again in 2029, and by 2036 its orbit may change so that the Apophysis will fall on our planet. In this case, the explosion power will be equal to 400 mt in TNT equivalent.
“Apophysis-99942 is not a fiction of scientists and not a Hollywood blockbuster. This asteroid is a real threat” ” says Dan Geraci, chairman of the board of the Planetary Community. This asteroid came to the attention of scientists back in 2004. Then experts unanimously said that only a person can save the earth from the deadly giant, unlike robots and other mechanisms that can quickly navigate the terrain and make decisions. There was no daredevil who would agree to go alone to battle with the celestial monster, and scientists soon abandoned this idea, deciding to entrust the task of saving the planet to technology.
The spacecraft, developed by SpaceWork Engineering, will collide with the Apophyses in outer space and thus shift its center of gravity. Then the satellites will conduct regular observations of changes in the orbit of the space body. The launch of the ship is planned to be carried out by 2012. In the meantime, research will be conducted from Earth laboratories, but experts are confident that such observations are not enough. Now scientists are focusing all their attention on collecting as much information about the asteroid as possible in the shortest possible time. Otherwise, the threat of a collision will be impossible to prevent. “Ideally, we should change the orbit of Apophysis by 2025, to be absolutely sure that the asteroid will pass our planet” ” said project manager Matthew Graham.
Scientists from SpaceWork Engineering have been working on projects to prevent celestial bodies from colliding with the Earth’s surface for many years. In 2004, engineers proposed a fundamentally new method for changing the orbit of asteroids. In their opinion, it is inefficient to blow up asteroids with the help of powerful nuclear charges. It is much easier to send several small landing stations to the celestial body, which will change its orbit, “chipping ” pieces and throwing them in the direction opposite to the direction of movement. “It’s like throwing rocks out of a boat. After a while, it can be made to move, ” says Graham. Now specialists are at the initial stage of developing this method. After the preliminary studies are completed, the project plan will be handed over to NASA management, which will decide on its further funding.