Asteroid Deflection Strategies


Asteroid deflection strategies are methods of diverting near earth objects or NEOs in order to prevent a potential collision with earth. Asteroids that need to be deflected are those that have the potential to cause a huge amount of damage to earth and the atmosphere. For example, an NEO that would cause a huge impact on earth could cause tsunamis in addition to extreme amounts of dust that would cover the earth, causing severe medical problems or even worse, and death.

The best strategy to deflect a near earth object is early detection. When these objects can be detected early enough then, steps can be taken to deal with the potential problems that may arise if the asteroid was to collide with earth. When it is detected early enough plans can be put into place as to how it can be deflected so that it is moving away from earth.

Asteroid deflection strategies fall under two types; destruction and delay. A destruction strategy deals with destroying the asteroid, breaking it into smaller pieces that will actually disintegrate in the atmosphere before hitting earth. However, this is a fool proof solution to the problem because fragments can still hit earth and cause substantial damage. A delay however, is a more complicated. A delay involves matching the orbit of the asteroid to the rate of orbit of the earth. In a delay strategy it is expected that if you can delay or accelerate the orbit of the asteroid then you can cause it to miss earth all together. However, this strategy is based on calculations and everything must be exact in order of this delay to work perfectly.

One the most often proposed deflection strategies is to fire nuclear missiles at the oncoming asteroid to vaporize all or most of it. If the asteroid is not completely vaporized, the particles are small enough so that there is no potential risk to earth if they were to collide. There are a number of different strategies that can be proposed to help deflect asteroids from hitting earth.