Although the risk of an asteroid colliding with Earth is low, according to astronomers, and none are known to be direct to our planet, the reality is that there are tens of thousands of rocks moving around us. And it cannot be ruled out that any change in trajectory due to any astrophysical phenomenon. What does it take to deflect an asteroid? Well, apparently, a cable and another rock are enough …
In recent decades scientists have proposed many systems to prevent a meteor from colliding with Earth. The most common revolve around destroying it with a remote-controlled missile, or a nuclear bomb deposited on its surface.
This method has its advantages: it is fast, effective, and relatively easy to implement. Human beings are experts in bombarding things. But it has its problems: the asteroid could break into fragments that could hit Earth, and cause immense damage. That is why other simpler and, apparently, safer and more effective methods have been devised.
According to Parabolic Arc, Professor Flaviane Venditti and his team at the Arecibo Observatory at the University of Central Florida propose to use … a cable, and another rock.
The idea is to tie a rock to a wire (perhaps another asteroid) and attach it to the meteorite that threatens Earth. This action changes the center of mass of the two rocks, causing a change in inertia and the forces of gravity, which would cause the asteroid changed course, moving away from Earth.
These experts have made a computer simulation with the data from the asteroid Bennu, which a couple of years ago visited a NASA probe, using different types of rocks under different conditions, and conclude that in most simulations the asteroid deflected its course. You can check the test results in this document.
The advantage of this system is that you don’t have to destroy the asteroid, so there is no risk of collision with its fragments. But other problems would still have to be solved, such as locating the rock to tie the meteorite, and the method used to join these two celestial bodies together.