Lasers Could Deflect Future Asteroids From Impacting Earth

Asteroid Ida. Image credit: NASA/JPLThe Earth has been bombarded by asteroids in the past, and it’s going to happen again in the future. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when”. Keenly aware of the problem, scientists are working on strategies that could prevent an asteroid with Earth in its cross hairs from impacting us.

One interesting technique is being worked on at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The strategy would involved placing a laser system into space, or at a future Moon base. When a potential Earth-crossing asteroid is discovered, the laser would target it and fire for a long period of time. A small amount of material would be knocked off the surface of the asteroid, which would deflect its orbit slightly. Over a long period of time, the asteroid course correction would add up, turning a direct hit into a near miss.

A laser system like this is a long way off, but a system could be developed sooner that could focus on asteroids and help measure their properties and precisely track their orbits, helping remove some of the uncertainty.

Original Source: UAH News Release