The last time we got acquainted with Mr Kamaraj, the legend that was killed by the meteor. Since then I’ve been eyeing the sky with quite a bit of fear. And to know that even NASA sometimes don’t really know about the meteors that are sometimes come too close to home, it has made me more paranoid than a weedhead.
I pored over the interweb to see how imminent the dangers can be, and I was not disappointed in a bit. There seems to be a lot of giant space rocks that like coming too close to us. Just check out this site for the numbers. But don’t be too alarmed, those are just close approaches. There are also data there to show the impact risk of some meteors with the ETA as well. All this is enough to make me knock down my glass and reach the bottle for another.
As it is in the cards that a meteor or an asteroid is gonna strike the earth and send us where the dinosaurs went, I started thinking of ways this danger could be averted. And almost immediately, I can hear Steve Tyler serenading that he doesn’t want to close his eyes, or fall asleep so he won’t miss a thing. You got it, Armageddon. I started thinking about how in that movie, the brave and bald (all brave and macho men are bald) Bruce Willis and his gang drill a hole in the asteroid and blow it to smithereens. Why can’t we do that? Why don’t we fly up to the asteroid, or meteor approaching earth and land on it, and drill a hole, and stuff a nuclear warhead inside, and……Forget it. That’s not going to work!! I was watching the landing of Rosetta on the comet and it wasn’t easy. I mean, how they are going to land a probe on a moving object that we are unsure of its composition below the surface. And even if they stick the landing, the drilling and the attaching of the warhead, there’s just no way of doing it. Even if Bruce Willis offers to do it in real life, burying a nuke in an asteroid is just plain impossible.
While I was pondering about Liv Tyler while listening to Steve Tyler, I remembered another movie that was released around the same time, Deep Impact. In the movie, they affixed jet thrusters to an asteroid to change its collision course. Even while watching the movie, I was snickering at the idea. And true enough, it didn’t even work in the movie. But let’s just say that the idea worked. Let’s say that jet thrusters were successfully attached and we managed to change the course of the asteroid, is that really safe? What if the asteroid misses the earth and hits our moon. What would happen then? Or worse, what if it hits another planet in our solar system? What then? We’re still screwed, that’s what’s then.
Is there no other way to mitigate this? Are we just doomed? Just counting the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days just waiting for the impact?
Well there might be a way. And it is funny how it’s going to work. We are going to paint the asteroid white. Yup! We are going to go up to space, and we are going to paint the asteroid that’s coming our way white. Go ahead, laugh. Get it out of your system. But it is going to work better than a nuke and the thrusters.
How in the world is that going to work? Well, this will work because of the Yarkovsky effect. According to NASA, The Yarkovsky effect is the idea that a small rocky space object would, over long periods of time, be noticeably nudged in its orbit by the slight push created when it absorbs sunlight and then re-emits that energy as heat. The heat energy is like a built in thruster that will send the asteroid in its orbit. As we all know, white is a very good reflector and a very bad absorber of heat. This will result in the asteroids orbit altered. Which means, away from us. YAY!!!! We are saved!!!
But let us not celebrate so fast. It would take at least a decade to paint one side of the asteroid white. So that means, we need to start now, when we are not very sure if the asteroid is on collision course or not. So back to the drawing table scientists.
On that somber note, I raise my glass to those brilliant scientists who are really working on saving the earth, even when it all seems futile.
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