How to Change an Asteroid's Orbit

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Changing an asteroid's orbit is something that can happen in a variety of ways, including through a planet's gravity. Change an asteroid's orbit with help from an astrophysics professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Moons & Planets
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Eylene Pirez and I'm an astrophysicist and this is how to change an asteroid's orbit. So it's no secret that the asteroid situation and what to do when an asteroid is approaching Earth is very unclear of what the proper way to handle this is. We have encountered asteroids every day generally they're small enough that our atmosphere takes care of it for us, we have Jupiter guarding us, we have the sun guarding us, but what to do if we know that there's an asteroid that can have a significant impact on Earth. What are the possible ways that we can actually do this. So there is the first one which is the probably the most obvious one is the impact. So if you want to make something move, you want something to change orbit, you hit it straight so it's a direct impact and make it change collisions, change paths. Then the second one is blow it up with weapons. This has been a talk for awhile but it's actually not recommended because we don't know how can the asteroid fragment where is this fragments going to go are they going to be small enough that they're harmless or are they going to be large enough that they're still a threat. So weapons is a choice. And then there's a lot of exotic ideas that are coming up every day and one of my favorite ones is called mirror bees and what this involves is a lot of tiny spacecrafts carrying a mirror. And what they do is they concentrate sunlight on it and eventually create enough energy to deviate the asteroid. So it's practically evaporating part of the asteroid and the asteroid is losing mass and therefore it's going to change its path. So another exotic way to do this is the wrap and this is when two spacecrafts come in and practically wrap around the asteroid and just force it to change orbits. Another fun one is the laser. Just to use a really intense laser and evaporate half of the asteroid or a certain mass of the asteroid until its actual gravitational force that is following that path is reduced and then it's no longer following that path. Another one is the solar sail. And the solar sail is kind of an interesting one. It's practically putting using solar energy it's going to create sort of a hole through the asteroid and when you drill a hole through a cold asteroid you're going to create this aero jets and it's practically going to become like a propulsion system where it would sort of just deviate the planet entirely. My name is Eylene Pirez and I'm an astrophysicist and these are ways to make an asteroid change orbit.

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