Deconstructing Doomsday Asteroids And Comets: New Thinking For New Technology.
New Thinking on Saving The Earth From Large Asteroid and Comet Impact Collisions.
Deconstructing an Asteroid or Comet : New Thinking Saving the Earth from Doomsday Size Space Object Collisions
Publish Date: 12/12/2011 GRP LEX
Thinking about the dangers of potential collisions with massive asteroids and comets that pose a danger to the earth and knowing that in 2029 and 2036 there is some chance of a collision with an asteroid named Apophis I started wondering what machines I would send up to rendezvous with the space object and land there to make it go away. NASA now seems to believe that the impact probability is substantially low for Apophis but they could be wrong based on other factors that they may not have used in their calculation assumptions. New Evidence suggests the possibility that large massive planets like the Earth and Mercury in orbit plow though the solar wind leaving a sort of vacuum wake behind them. A video of Mercury shows a solar flair or prominence seeming to fill a void behind behind the planet or in it's shadow. When I saw that it occurred to me that there is more complexity in the way the earth passes though space than just to consider implications of gravity and electromagnetic field alone.
The momentum of Apophis is the best reason to believe that NASA is probably correct in it's assessment but there is always the possibility of unexpected solar activity and solar activity in the nature of great storm that could disable earth satellites could also result in a change of course. When you have an 885 ft object moving faster than the speed of a bullet it is going to take a great force to change it's course of progression. Theories however already exist that light itself can be used to nudge a very massive object into a slightly different course of movement and direction. That is why a solar flair could be dangerous as yet a new variable in thinking about the possibility of a collision. Solar wind may have even more effect as a sustained force applied to bare objects in space as seen in a radiometer where significant mass is set in motion by an extremely rarefied gas.
Thinking about what machinery might be sent up to rendezvous and land on the surface of an asteroid or comet first i thought of putting up a telescope or a colony of people or robots up for the 7 year ride around between the 2029 and 2036 pass by to earth. Then It dawned on me that if we really were worried about a destructive collision we could actually send up machinery to deconstruct the asteroid and make it disappear before it ever arrived near the earth. If you think about the great pyramid in Egypt made out of thousands and thousands of large blocks and deconstruct it in your mind you may start to see the same possibility. We deconstruct mountains every day on earth mostly for mining and we have been doing so for 1000s of years including how we as ancient Egyptians deconstructed mountains to get the stones to build the various pyramids. It is actually not a very far fetched idea then since it is done all the time.
Deconstruction of an asteroid or comet then begins by meeting up with it long before it gets close enough to be dangerous. That requires thinking and planning in advance. First thing you need is a power source and machinery to either cut up or reprocess the material that the asteroid./ comets are made of. Instead of sending nuclear weapons to blow up an incoming asteroid of doom and having the earth showed potentially by millions of bits and pieces of the same mass in the same course or collision this plan sends up a nuclear power plant and machines that can take it apart in smaller pieces. The next piece of equipment needed is a space gun I designed which looks more like a catapult than a gun. It also requires the power from the power plant because no solar array of panels is going to provide enough energy at the surface of a comet or asteroid to power it. It is a catapult not very much unlike the ones used by the ancient Romans except that its aim is extremely accurate and much more high tech and able to be rapidly loaded, fired and reloaded possibly with a line or battery of these. Deconstruction of an 885 ft diameter asteroid like Apophis is something that is incremental and would take time. Depending on whether it is solid or a heap of moving debris it might either need to be cut by saws or cast into molten bricks using nuclear power before becoming catapult size chucks.
The space guns or catapults would simply aim these asteroid chucks at the sun with sufficient velocity they are sure to go where intended. We could also fire a few off so they would hit other planets or moons for experimental purposes or even war craft. Sending them into the sun would be a pretty good bet. Deconstruction would then be cut block by cut block or cast brick by cast brick. With robots running everything slowly but surely the asteroid or comet would simply disappear or if time does not allow at least be significantly reduced in size before striking the earth. The nuclear power plant would have to be detachable or could just have the catapult space guns send their fuel into the sun and possibly before that could be used to redirect a much smaller asteroid or comet away from the earth with much less required thrust because of downsizing. There are certainly military implications in development of the technology because anything that can aim fast moving pieces of an asteroid or comet at the sun can also aim it with deadly accuracy at targets on earth.
Deconstructing an asteroid or comet in this manner may be the best way to dispose of doomsday objects before they ever become a threat. It is not going to be cheap but it could be effective. The first attempt could be used to help build a platform for a second generation that keeps the nuclear plant in a solar orbit that it could be re-used saving money later on. The interesting thing is these machines do not have to be extremely heavy because we maybe talking about relatively light weight robotic saw with interchangeable diamond blades and other parts- These might be no bigger than a large automobile with a mobile saws. The catapult guns could be of similar size and also mobile. If it requires a kiln to melt ice and or rock and recast it as brick it is also nothing bigger than an SUV and the Nuclear power plants involved only need to be as large as what we find on a Trident submarine.
We might actually need to bring liquid water to an asteroid for cooling purposes and to get dust down if sawing or digging. Now if it turns out that the minerals on the asteroid being deconstructed to prevent a doomsday impact are valuable like nickle rich iron we can also cast deconstruct it and save the materials by using the space guns to launch them into a solar orbit where we could retrieve them or send them to earth aimed to reclamation areas or with atmosphere projection designs that allow them to glide down to earth and land maybe with some kind of guided missile module attached and possible thrusters that could be cheaper than mining the earth for the same materials. It might be possible that mining process for trace elements will have even more value and these can be refined in separate SUV size factories and sent back to earth in specially designed re-entry vehicles.
Deconstruction is probably the best way to deal with asteroids and comets making them disappear incrementally in an industrial process. It is a lot like pyramid building in reverse and yes a form of anti gravity too in that potentially dangerous objects would lose mass and their momentum would be translated in large bullets as sacrificial victims sent to be consumed by the Sun. The best way to design the robots to do the work is to think of them as modular and to keep the hole project one of interchangeable parts so if parts break they can be fixed and replaced on site. Space guns can also use the chunks of materials as billiard balls in space to aim at other possibly dangerous asteroids and comets changing their direction and progress of movement so they stay away from the Earth. If a 1000 ft diameter asteroid contains say 1 billion cubic feet of material the machines would have to work really fast to deconstruct and dispose of that unfortunately is 2,739,726 per day if it has to be done in a year which is 1903 per minute. That is not as fast as an explosion would be but we do have factories on earth that can create stone blocks and bricks at very high rates of production. It might be necessary to use explosives as we do on terrestrial mines instead of saws? The important thing is just to start thinking about systematic deconstruction and that will yield a solution or different solutions for different kinds of space objects.
Fortunately in terms of energy requirements gravity is not very much of a work related problem for machines on small objects like the asteroid pictured below. Low gravity means less energy is required to escape gravity. In terms of designing the machines they need to be able to have a firm grasp of the object so the equipment can work to process and expel the mass units and that takes additional design thinking in advance, Working to deconstruct these objects would be a little bit like trying to deconstruct a sand dune while keeping heavy equipment attached to it and worse than that with very low gravity. I have some of that technology but it is still proprietary.