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Spray-Painting Asteroids Could Prevent Earth Collision

posted 26 Feb 2013, 12:53 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Feb 2013, 12:54 ]

Next Media - Asteroids on a collision course with Earth could be rerouted by spray painting them with a thin layer of paint, a Texas A&M University professor says.

Dave Hyland, an aerospace and physics professor at Texas A&M, says an asteroid collision could be prevented by spraying a thin layer of paint on an approaching asteroid.

The orbit of an asteroid is altered by radiation from the sun, which heats the side of the asteroid facing the sun. This causes that side to release more radiation than the other side. This property, called the Yarkovsky effect, acts like a rocket thruster, slowly pushing the asteroid toward a collision path with Earth.

The paint would be made from a powder and an inert gas. It could be given a negative charge to make it stick to the asteroid when hit by the positively charged solar wind.

Painting the asteroid white would reduce the Yarkovsky effect, while painting it black would increase the effect.

Hyland and his students are working with NASA and could launch a mission into low-Earth orbit next year to test a paint-dispensing system.

SOURCES: Texas A&M UniversitySan Francisco Chronicle