David S.F. Portree hosts the 54th Carnival of Space at his Altair VI site this week. I love Altair VI — the stories are consistently interesting and the artwork well chosen as well as frequently unusual. Besides, a collector of old pulp magazines like myself can’t help but be drawn to a site with an early 30’s era Science Wonder Stories cover at the top. From this week’s carnival, I’ll send you to Starts with a Bang!, which looks at what we could do to nudge an asteroid away from a potential collision with Earth. Noting that 433 Eros, which came near Earth recently, sports a mass of 6 x 1015 kg, Ethan Siegel flags the thermonuclear option as the best bet for moving such a massive object, assuming we get two months’ warning.
Of course, two months’ warning depends upon how well we’ve mapped Earth-crossing objects, an inventory still being built. Let’s hope this century will see us create the infrastructure to nudge these things out of harm’s way via missiles from launching sites at the LaGrange points, a la Claudio Maccone’s concept. For more, see the Italian scientist’s two part study “Planetary Defense From Space: Part 1-Keplerian Theory,” Acta Astronautica Vol. 55, Issue 12 (December, 2004), pp. 991-1006 and “Planetary Defense from Space: Part 2 – (Simple) Asteroid Deflection Law,” Acta Astronautica Vol. 58, Issue 12 (June, 2006), pp. 662-670.