ESA to go "Armageddon"

ESA to go "Armageddon"
The European Space Agency plans to do what we repeatedly have seen unfold in movies. They will move an asteroid out of its original course.

The Space Agency has already started planning for the launch of the mission, named Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), which starts in October 2020.

In the movie Armageddon from 1998, drilling manager Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) was brought in to save the world from an asteroid collision, along with NASA's own astronauts. By drilling a hole in the asteroid and fill it with a nuclear bomb, he managed to destroy it before the collision with Earth.

However ESA plans to use another method to interfere with the asteroid's course.

They will not blow it up. It had in fact probably made the asteroid even more dangerous. It would continued in its orbit, but in pieces. If the asteroid had course towards Earth these pieces would peppered Earth, destroyed satellites etc.

ESA will instead try to gently push the asteroid out of its course. And it can be done in one of two ways:

They can affect gravity by ramming something into the asteroid, or they can attach something to the asteroid that rotates around it - and thus shifts the center of gravity.

It may be enough to use only gravity between a spacecraft orbiting a smaller asteroid to pull it to a less dangerous path.

If one chooses the first option, it does not require much for the asteroid's path to change significantly.

If they can push it just one meter out of position, it will instantly be shifted many kilometers off course.

But this depends on both the speed of the asteroid and the distance to what it is on a collision course with.

According NASA is planning to attempt to move an asteroid by sending a high speed probe into it.

The probe, which is 300 kg, is to be shot into the asteroid Didymoon in 2022, at a speed of more than 20 000 km / h. The hope is that this will push Didymoon out of its course.

The asteroid constitutes no threat to Earth.

One can also attach a small rocket engine to an asteroid, which will slowly push it off course.

According to NASA, more than 600,000 asteroids in our solar system has been discovered. More than 10,000 of these are regarded as Near Earth Objects (NEO).

The overview of current asteroids can be found here.

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