How are we prepared to remove asteroids that could cause significant damage to Earth?

Humans are also considering mineral asteroids for metals, but one of the most important reasons for scientists to study these ancient space debris is the rescue of the planet, which has the potential to damage the Earth from space debris.

Accordingly, NASA is planning 2022 Planetary Defense Mission It involves sending a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid to investigate how it could change during a collision with Earth.

Dr. Naomi Murdoch, a planetary scientist at the French Aeronautics and Space Institute ISAE-Superporo, which specializes in the geographical development of astronomy – is part of a mission commissioned by the European Space Agency. He told Horizon that the mission would identify the planet after receiving data after affecting the asteroid, which would inform strategies designed to deal with any threatening asteroids on Earth’s path.

But are we in any real danger of being wiped out by the ruins of a large rock? Not really, but some asteroids can do enough damage, which is why we are shortening our defense system on Earth.

What makes asteroids attractive?

This includes how our solar system was created by asteroids. Their physical makeup and composition can help answer the big questions of life.

How many have we identified – and what are they made of?

So far we have identified millions of asteroids, but there are decades, if not millions, that we do not know. Unlike stars, asteroids do not emit their own light, they only reflect sunlight, so many small findings are difficult to find.

Depending on what they formed in the solar system, where they were closest to the sun, they survived the heat stress, the lost elements that might be interested in studying. Most commonly, however, they are farther away from the Sun: C (carbonaceous) species, probably composed of soil and silicate rocks, which are among the oldest objects in the solar system, but are difficult to identify because they are relatively dark in color.

Then there are the brighter options. M (Metallic) – The composition is basically made of metallic iron, located in the middle of the asteroid belt. (The asteroid belt is located approximately between Mars and Jupiter). The combination of silicate material and nickel-iron S (Stony) type is commonly found in the inner asteroid belt.

Most of the meteors found on Earth (a small piece of an asteroid or comet that survives traveling in the Earth’s atmosphere) are either metallic or rocky. If the Earth’s atmosphere is not fully ignited, asteroids of the Carbonadosius species are less likely to be tiny. Basically, the type of meteorite we find on Earth does not necessarily represent the type of asteroid that strikes our atmosphere.

So what kind of asteroid did scientists warn of as a threat to our planet?

Any asteroid size can kill us in principle but it is easy to identify the largest asteroids – we have identified a huge number of them and they are not at risk. There are many smaller asteroids than the larger ones and because they are smaller they are actually harder to detect and harder to follow. We had to search several times to determine their orbit.

The direction we are focusing on is the size of 100 (500) -m (small asteroids). Sizes of this size are probably the most dangerous because they can still cause extensive damage to the Earth, for example at a regional and national level. But we still don’t know where they all are, so it’s a basic size limit for planetary defense, because one day there’s a risk of discovering something that was non-existent that was coming towards us.

Astronomers are trying to improve our ability to detect these small asteroids, then determine if they are a threat and remove the object if necessary (we will try).

As part New map In the project, we are assisting in the preparation of these planetary defense missions by improving the space system involved in measuring the surface structure of satellites, satellites and asteroids as it is these parameters that will manage whether any deviation mission is successful. Another goal is to develop a better understanding of the consequences of landing on asteroids, the consequences of their low gravitational environment, and the data recorded during surface interactions.

Once you want to detect an asteroid, how do you make a landing?

Before the first space mission many thought that asteroids were just a bunch, but we realized that they were actually much more interesting. They have their own evolutionary history, which is really important to understand the solar system in general.

The only way to properly examine the mechanical and physical properties of astronomy is to communicate directly with it and interact with it, but we do not have a good idea of ​​the actual surface of asteroids disturbing the low-gravitational environment. It is actually an outdoor space, usually covered by granular elements such as sand, rock, rock, depending on the asteroid and its size. And this granular material, in that low gravity environment, behaves much more fluid than the Earth.

As a result, previous missions had varying degrees of success in landing so we are now studying the behavior of landings in gravitational conditions located on asteroids.

“This 100 to 500 meter range is the main range that could affect us – that’s why scientists are working at the moment.”

Dr. Naomi Murdoch, ISAP-Superpo

You are part of the European Space Agency Hera Missions that NASA will follow Dart The mission of a binary asteroid system. What are these missions expected to achieve?

Dart is an upcoming planetary defense mission designed to hit a small asteroid moon, known as Dimorphos, which orbits the asteroid Didimos near Earth. The idea was that Dimorphos’ classes could be mirrored. In the days that followed, we found out if the paralysis was successful. Then, the Hera survey and asteroid pairing and the resulting crater will be featured.

The main Hera spacecraft will not touch the surface and will investigate all of the orbits around the asteroids. However, a mini-satellite called QSAT will land on the moon. For example, an asteroid will orbit and study (a radar to see its internal core) and then it will hit the surface. The landing part of the mission is ‘bonus science’ (not necessary to achieve the mission’s goal) but it is very interesting to identify the physical features of the asteroid.

An important deviation behind this mission is to test the method and understand the goal. Although Dimorphos is not a threat to Earth, it is a size that is compatible with asteroids with potential risks. What we want to do is a well-described, large-scale experiment that we can use to replace any potential asteroid threat. To do this we need to know about their form, mass density, the size of the impact crater and the level of debris generated after the collision.

By measuring physical characteristics and identifying targets in detail we can test our numerical (impact) model. If one day a potentially dangerous asteroid comes our way, if we can use these models we can assume that it could happen if we want to.

Another feature of Hera is the plan to take a look inside the moon. I think it will be very interesting to see what is happening there because it is going to tell us a lot about the history of the asteroid-moon pair.

Therefore, we are preparing to deal with an asteroid that could do some damage to Earth. But how is it possible that we will be completely wiped out by asteroids?

Small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small small This is the most threatening in the 100 to 500 meter range – so scientists are currently working.

Overall, we can all sleep knowing that it is very unlikely to be erased by any asteroid..

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

The neo-MAPP project is funded by the European Union.

Originally published Horizon Magazine

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