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Enhanced Kinetic Impactor for Deflecting Large-scale Potentially Hazardous Asteroids via Maneuvering Space Rocks

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Friday, July 26, 2019

Mingtao Li, Yirui Wang, Youliang Wang, Binghong Zhou, Wei Zheng

(Submitted on 24 Jul 2019)

Asteroid impacts pose a major threat to humanity. The age of the dinosaur was abruptly ended by a 10-km-diameter asteroid. Currently, a nuclear device is the only means of deflecting large potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) away from an Earth-impacting trajectory. The enhanced kinetic impactor (EKI) scheme is proposed to deflect large-scale PHAs via maneuvering space rocks. First, an unmanned spacecraft is launched to rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) that passes close to the target PHA. Then, hundreds of tons of rocks are collected from the NEA as an enhanced impactor. The NEA can also be captured as an enhanced impactor if the NEA is very small. Finally, the enhanced impactor is maneuvered to impact the PHA at a high speed, resulting in a significant deflection of the PHA. For example, to deflect Apophis, as much as 200 t of rocks could be collected from an NEA as an enhanced impactor based on existing engineering capabilities. The EKI could produce a delta-v of 39.3 mm/s in Apophis, thereby increasing the minimum geocentric distance during the close encounter in 2029 by 1,795.2 km. This mission could be completed in 3.9 years, with a fuel cost of 3.8 t. The momentum transferred to the PHA by the EKI is two orders of magnitude higher than that of the classic kinetic impact strategy, and the defense time could be significantly shortened at the same time. With the existing engineering capabilities, the EKI concept can be used to effectively deflect large-scale PHAs. We anticipate that our research will be a starting point for efficient planetary defense against large-scale PHAs.

Subjects: Space Physics (physics.space-ph); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1907.11087 [physics.space-ph] (or arXiv:1907.11087v1 [physics.space-ph] for this version)

Submission history

From: Yirui Wang 

[v1] Wed, 24 Jul 2019 12:11:08 UTC (755 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.11087

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