Sunday, February 16, 2014

Billiards in space: Tests for asteroid defense satellite - ABC Online

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February 2013 exploding over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk million a meteorite. The pressure wave can burst thousands of discs and covers roofs, around 1,500 people are injured by glass splinters.

anticipating the destructive celestial bodies could no one. Too small was some 10 000 tons and 20 feet in diameter large chunks to be tracked with telescopes.

Significantly larger celestial bodies, researchers from the international research project “NEOShield ‘in view. Those who could come close to the earth and significantly more dangerous than the meteorite of Chelyabinsk. How this could be diverted from its path in an emergency, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed ??Dynamics in Freiburg. There asteroids are shot in miniature of tiny satellites.

There is no evidence in the basement of the Institute suggests that research is carried out there about saving the Earth from space from deadly chunks. “Cities and regional killer” called scientist Frank Schaefer asteroids that occupy him. They have a diameter of between 100 meters and 300 meters and could wipe out entire cities and regions. Around 10 000 of these “Near-Earth Objects” – asteroids that may come close to Earth – astronomers have registered so far


telescopes or instruments for the observation of asteroids one searches in vain in the workplace by Schäfer. An approximately seven-meter apparatus is in the laboratory of the physicist. It is a kind of cannon to be shot on rocks with the tiny spheres of aluminum. Shepherd calls them quite futuristic “spacegun”, or, in scientific terms, acceleration system. With it, the defense of dangerous asteroids with satellites is simulated.

goal of “NEOShield ‘researchers is to be able to leave a spacecraft on an asteroid strike in the future and this way to divert attention from its orbit. “This is similar to billiards,” says Shepherd. “If a ball strikes the other, it changes its course.” Exactly how these changes might look like shepherd explored with so-called pendulum tests.

At one end is the “spacegun” loaded with an aluminum ball the size of a pinhead. On the other hand hangs a concrete block, about 20 centimeters wide, deep and high. He has a density similar to an asteroid. Porous, but stable. AAC experts say so.

then is shot, the bead pops with some 30 000 kilometers per hour on the block. Slow motion cameras record the impact, measuring sensors, such as moving the block. The scientists expect then into real magnitudes and ask the question: If the force to throw a menacing asteroid from its path


Alan Harris, who heads the project “NEOShield” at the German Centre for Aerospace, believes it is realistic that a probe is shot from the size of a small truck on a 100 meter to 300 meter test asteroids these to bowl out of the web. “We already have one or the other asteroids in the view that we could shoot,” says Harris. Which they are, remain secret. “There are of course caliber that is not racing towards the earth, but at a safe distance fly past her.”

What happens when an asteroid not flies past the earth, shows a glimpse of the past – such as the impact of an asteroid in the Nordlinger Ries in Bavaria in front of about 14.6 million years ago. The crater has a diameter of up to 24 kilometers. Also, the Barringer Crater in Arizona (USA) with a diameter of 1200 meters was caused by an asteroid. He was probably just 50 feet tall. And 1908 in Siberia, the explosion of an asteroid millions of trees uprooted.

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