Asteroid and Comet Deflection

Near-Misses and their Uses

February 18, 2013

We can hope that the celestial events of February 15, including the spectacular fireball over Chelyabinsk and the near-miss from asteroid 2012 DA14, have raised public consciousness about Earth’s neighbors in space. And indeed, this seems to be the case. Media outlets were flooded with articles, photos and video, and talk show hosts found themselves […]

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Deep Space Industries: Mining Near-Earth Asteroids

January 22, 2013

Deep Space Industries is announcing today that it will be engaged in asteroid prospecting through a fleet of small ‘Firefly’ spacecraft based on cubesat technologies, cutting the costs still further by launching in combination with communications satellites. The idea is to explore the small asteroids that come close to Earth, which exist in large numbers […]

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Astrobiology: The Necessity of Asteroids

November 2, 2012

Let’s talk this morning about the ‘snow line,’ the boundary in the Solar System beyond which volatiles like water ice remain cold enough to keep intact. Rebecca Martin (University of Colorado) and Mario Livio (Space Telescope Science Institute) have been running simulations using models of planet-forming disks around young stars. The idea: To calculate the […]

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Asteroid Deflection: The Paintball Solution

October 30, 2012

Planetary Resources has us thinking about mining the asteroids to extract useful materials, but learning more about these objects will benefit us in all kinds of ways. Not only do asteroids offer up clues about the early Solar System, but getting to understand their composition and structure will be a key element in any future […]

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Hit by a Falling Star

August 9, 2012

About a year ago a French couple by the name of Comette returned to their home to find that a meteorite had struck their house while they were away on holiday. It could be said that the Comettes already had a celestial connection — if in name only — but now the heavens impinged upon […]

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Private Funding for Asteroid Telescope

June 29, 2012

Asteroids are certainly having their moment in the press, what with the combined attention being paid first to Planetary Resources and its plans for asteroid mining, and now the B612 Foundation, with a plan that in some ways tracks the Planetary Resources model. As announced yesterday, B612 intends to build a space telescope using private […]

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A Longer, Heavier Bombardment

May 29, 2012

We know that the early Earth was a violent place, but just how violent? The so-called Late Heavy Bombardment is thought to have occurred from 4.1 billion to 3.8 billion years ago, likely the result of asteroids being destabilized in their orbits by shifts in the orbits of the outer planets. That model is self-limiting, […]

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Impacts Spreading Life through the Cosmos?

May 25, 2012

Still catching up after the recent series on antimatter propulsion, I want to move into some intriguing work on panspermia, the idea that life may spread throughout a Solar System, and perhaps from star to star, because of massive impacts on a planetary surface. Catching up with older stories means leaving some things unsaid about […]

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Changing the Risk Paradigm

May 16, 2012

As we continue to think about the implications of Planetary Resources and its plans for asteroid mining, I was interested to see exoplanet hunter Sara Seager (MIT) make a rousing case for the company’s ideas and for commercial space ventures in general. Seager, who works with Planetary Resources as a science advisor, tells The Atlantic’s […]

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The Asteroid and the Telescope

May 3, 2012

One of the topics receiving fairly little coverage in the excitement of the Planetary Resources announcement is asteroid deflection. It seems clear that learning how to reach an asteroid and extract everything from water to platinum-group metals from it will also teach us strategies for changing an asteroid’s trajectory, in the event we find one […]

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