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 presentation: www.planetary.org 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 rock. 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 science. 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. ----- KK Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast At: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/sdi/program/ These contents above are copyright of the author and UFO UpDates - Toronto. They may not be reproduced without the express permission of both parties and are intended for educational use only.
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