Asteroid Impact Prevention

Past plans, current plans, future plans to prevent impact.

Past Plans

Some plans that have already been put to action to handle meteorites and asteroids include:

Present Plans

Plans being considered by astronomers now to prevent asteroid (or at least meteorite) impact with Earth include:

Solar Sail

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The solar sail is a device that would be attached to a space rock and apply constant pressure of sunlight over certain areas. The pressure of the sunlight on the rock would cause the rock to radiate energy from one of its sides, therefore slowly and steadily changing its original course. However this plan is only effective on smaller rocks during for shorter given periods of time. For this plan to be effective on something larger would require action, many years in advance.

Painted Surface

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As strange as it may sound, there are plans of painting the surface of asteroids and meteorites to alter their course. According to the "Yarkovski effect", the more heated surface of an asteroid will emit more thermal radiation, therefore, controlling the heated areas using paint may help control radiating areas and ultimately alter the rock's course slightly. However, just as the solar sail, this plan requires years in advance notice to be effective on larger rocks.

Future Plan

A plan probably not in consideration right now, but may be considered in the future, with possible advances in technology, currently no more than a theory...
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This plan is by far no more than a rough sketch and a theory, however may have some sort of potential in the future. The main concern is that a large asteroid may one day appear and wipe out the human race, even using regular tactics may not be enough. Which is where the Caterpillar Initiative comes in. The idea is that a caterpillar-like laser drill, digs into dense surfaces of huge asteroids easily by heating the surface first. It would burrow down in several layers around the huge space rock and place nuclear warheads (30 000 kilotons of nuclear energy each) that it carries in its attached pods. The highest concentration of energy would be in the center, to fragment the rock into smaller pieces, while the lowest would be on the surface, to be used solely as to separate clusters of debris. Advantages to this is that the pods can be attached and disattached so they can be flown up separately and attached in the target's orbit, Making the trip faster and safer.

Inspiration for the Caterpillar

Originally the plan was supposed to drill into asteroids, extract resources , while decreasing mass, while another ship is on standby with nuclear bombs. The problem was, that it might not be enough to properly separate debris and because of gravity, blowing the asteroid up would be useless. So the plan was actually further inspired by a movie called The Core.
The Core Trailer