It's one of those nagging problems science has yet to solve: how do we save Earth if one of our asteroid neighbors starts heading our way? We've noodled everything from tractor beam, lasers, and even nuking them Armageddon style. A new proposal joining the chorus suggests hitting asteroids with white paintballs could do the trick — first by steering them off course with the force of impact, then by using the force of reflected sunlight bouncing off the paint to slowly move the offender out of the way.
While politicians tiptoe around climate change, scientists are coming up with more and more mind-numbingly cool ways to mitigate its causes and effects. Falling along the lines of other geo-engineering projects, a new approach suggests using asteroid dust to block and absorb solar radiation well before it can reach the Earth.
Russia announced Monday that it's been sitting on a huge deposit of diamonds buried under an impact crater in Siberia. And these aren't just any diamonds: they're twice as hard as normal, thanks to their instantaneously violent extraterrestrial origins.
If you love space, and you love getting behind the scenes access then, the AsteroidMappers project is perfect for you. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's spacecraft Dawn recently finished its orbit of the asteroid Vesta, and has delivered so much data that citizen scientists are being asked to help analyze what has been found.
By the looks of this video, Monday night would not have been a very jovial night to spend on Jupiter. Two amateur astronomers spotted a bright white flash for a few seconds just inside Jupiter's eastern limb, which was probably a fireball a hundred miles in diameter caused by an asteroid or comet impacting Jupiter's atmosphere. Ka-POW!
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has concluded its survey of the asteroid Vesta and is now heading to Ceres, the largest asteroid (or smallest dwarf planet) in the solar system. As Dawn's mission director puts it, "thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions." Whoa.
Believe it or not, Bruce Willis had sort of the right idea in Armageddon: the most effective way to nuke an asteroid that's threatening Earth is to detonate the weapon deep inside the rock as opposed to on the surface. There may be a Willis/Affleck-free way to make this happen, by using an artificial asteroid of our own.
About three billion years ago, Greenland got in a fight with some massive celestial body. From what we can tell, Greenland got its butt handed to it. That's the finding (more or less) of a research team which claims to have discovered a 62-mile-wide crater near the Maniitsoq region of western Greenland.
Not content to sit back and wait for an asteroid to obliterate all life on Earth, a group of scientists and space vets are launching their own telescope. Sentinel will be the world's first privately funded space telescope, and it will orbit the sun and map out the asteroids lurking around the interior of our solar system.
When Planetary Resources first announced its ambitious plan to start mining asteroids, the company also mentioned that the rest of us might get a little piece of the action with access to a network of space telescopes. Now, Planetary has announced that it might try and do it from the get-go, through Kickstarter.