Scientists have an extreme plan to intercept asteroid 'the size of a skyscraper'

The dangers of an asteroid striking the Earth is something that space agencies and scientists around the world are constantly researching.

We already know of several space rocks that pass within certain distances of our planet. Sometimes we know a long time in advance and, occasionally, they come as a surprise.

Even a small impact can have devastating effects so scientists are currently looking at ways of intercepting potentially hazardous asteroids before they even reach us.

There are currently no asteroids that we know of that are on a collision course with Earth but Nasa is planning to launch a mission in 2021 known as a Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – essentially bumping a small asteroid to monitor how much they can move its trajectory.

Pete Worden, an adviser on space resources to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, recently told ABC News that the prevailing theory is that if any asteroids are big enough to threaten the planet ‘we’ll go move them’.

Speaking about the DART, Mr Worden said: ‘The thing is, if you move something years in advance, you don’t have to move it very much.

‘This is a rock that’s the size of a skyscraper.

‘You would then hit it with a spacecraft kind of the size of a small car, and by impacting it, it impacts energy and momentum and will move it slightly off its orbit.’

Amazingly though, Worden revealed another possible plan to intercept an asteroid that doesn’t involve striking it.

He claimed that spray-painting one side of the asteroid was being discussed by scientists as a way of changing orbit. The patch of rock with the paint on it would be heated differently by the sun, which would impact its movement through space.

The expert said that these discussions were ongoing inside the scientific community.

In the meantime, space agencies are asking for as much help as possible to spot potentially troublesome asteroids.

The European Space Agency issued an urgent call for more ‘eyes on the sky’ after it only spotted a particular asteroid a few days before it zipped past the Earth.

On July 25, astronomers watched as a 100-metre wide object called 2019 OK came within 65 000 km of our planet’s surface – which is roughly one fifth of the distance to the Moon.

The rock had actually been ‘previously been observed but wasn’t recognised as a near-Earth asteroid,’ ESA admitted.

Now it’s hoping to learn from this mistake and make sure every asteroid heading our way is located and identified well ahead of time.

‘This ‘un-recognition’ of an asteroid, despite it being photographed will be used to test the software going into ESA’s upcoming asteroid-hunting telescope, the Flyeye,’ said Rüdiger Jehn, ESA’s Head of Planetary Defence.

Source: Read Full Article