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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Mar > Mar 8

Laser Bees To Deflect Dangerous Asteroid

From: Kathy Kasten <catraja.nul>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2012 19:29:49 +0000
Archived: Thu, 08 Mar 2012 06:19:18 -0500
Subject: Laser Bees To Deflect Dangerous Asteroid

Dear List:

The latest from The Planetary Society.


Mirror (Laser) Bees: Planetary Defense

Update 03/05/12: Laser Bees' lead researcher, Alison Gibbings,
came out to Planetary Society headquarters to update us on the
project. Download her slides (4 MB PDF) and a summary of her
presentation (14KB PDF). Or, watch the full video of her


A New Way To Deflect A Dangerous Asteroid

What do we do if an asteroid is found to be on a collision
course with Earth? At this point, the answer is not clear, so
The Planetary Society has partnered with researchers to discover
ways to protect Earth when we one-day find a dangerous space

We've been working with a team at the University of Glasgow in
Scotland to study a new technique which uses concentrated light
to gently move an asteroid - a project we called "Mirror Bees" -
using mirrors on several spacecraft swarming around an asteroid
to focus sunlight onto a spot on the asteroid. As part of the
initial Mirror Bees project, researchers found that lasers are
more effective than mirrors and can be used from greater
distances. So, now the project is called "Laser Bees."

The researchers at the University of Glasgow, under the
leadership of Massimiliano Vasile, became interested in this
approach when they set out to compare nine approaches to
planetary defense. To their surprise, one of their results was
that Mirror Bees would work more quickly and effectively than
all but nuclear warheads. (But unlike the use of nuclear
explosions, there would be no risk of breaking a huge asteroid
into any number of equally deadly smaller asteroids, nor would
the procedure face as many political and bureaucratic hurdles.)

So just what are Laser Bees? This technique involves many small
spacecraft - each carrying a laser - swarming around a near-
Earth asteroid. The spacecraft could precisely focus their
powerful lasers pumped by sunlight onto a tiny spot on the
asteroid, vaporizing the rock and metal, and creating a jet
plume of super-heated gases and debris. The asteroid would
become the fuel for its own rocket - and slowly, the asteroid
would move into a new trajectory.

Thanks to supporters like you, The Planetary Society was able to
step in to make a huge difference in this crucial area of space

We need advanced and creative thinking to deflect Earth-
threatening asteroids and comets. The "Laser Bees" system is one
promising way.

You can help advance our work on this project!

The Planetary Society stepped in to fund a series of laboratory
experiments to answer questions such as: Will the plume of
superheated gasses ejected from an asteroid dissipate, or will
it block sunlight to the mirrors? Would the debris settle on the
satellite mirrors? Can the asteroid's rotation be dealt with
effectively? Will the gas plumes be enough to deflect the
asteroid?. Vasile's group worked with Ian Watson and the laser
lab of the University of Glasgow's Mechanical Engineering
Department to devise some ingenious small-scale experiments.
With the support of our members, we funded equipment, supplies,
and a graduate student, Alison Gibbings, dedicated to working on
the experiments.

Only through these types of studies, as well as additional
theoretical research, can we devise a rapid, effective, and safe
plan to protect Earth from dangerous asteroids.



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