Astronomy

What happens when a Meteor is on a Collision course with Earth



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"What happens when a Meteor is on a Collision course with Earth"
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There are many research groups, scientists, and schools, which receive untold millions of dollars each year from the federal government, in order to continue with their pursuit of whatever truth is eluding them. Some of them receive twenty million dollars a year to research things like hereditary baldness. But somehow the government seems to have turned a blind eye to some of the really important things that are being researched.

For instance: Only four million dollars a year is given to the small group of scientists who are working on identifying, mapping, and tracking all near-earth orbital meteors. All of these have the potential to cross paths with the earth at any time, and as far as they can tell they have only identified somewhere around 60% of these potentially serious threats to life on earth. One scientist described it as if space were a highway with no on or off ramps, only crossroads, and we (earth) are hurtling down the highway with no brakes and all the crossroads are being crossed by meteors at high speeds. The fortunate thing is that we seem to have managed to avoid being at the same intersection as any large meteors. But how long will our luck hold out?
The same four million also has to be divided with the even smaller group who is studying how to avert disaster in the event that one of these meteors should head for earth. Contrary to popular belief we cannot just blow them up with nukes, or shoot them with missiles to divert them. Either of these options would only cause them to be blown into many pieces which would then reform into a large grouping of meteors, which could actually be worse than just one hitting us. The gravity that each large meteor has of its own, would hold the pieces in close formation until it neared the earth's atmosphere, where they would scatter and rain down thousands of huge meteors over a large portion of the globe.
The main program operating at this time on how to prevent a cataclysmic meeting with a meteor is a comet rendezvous program. Scientists in California are building two space vehicles, which are being created to meet up with a specific near-earth orbit comet when it reaches its closest point in a year or so. The mother ship is a flyby ship and the smaller secondary ship will actually impact the comet, driving deep into its core. Scientists are hoping that as the mother ship flies by and records the data that the smaller ship send out when it flies head on into the comet, will give them an idea of what the core of a comet is like. Thus giving them a frame of reference to use when working on the problem of meteors. Though it is unlikely, they are hoping that the impact does not affect the comets' track. One scientist described it as a mosquito flying into the front of a Mack truck.

Two innovative scientists are working on their own "little" projects to save the earth from the threat of a meteor impact. One fellow in Nevada is building a spaceship with a giant solar power refractor. Similar to a huge magnifying glass. His proposal is that we use the light and heat from the sun to turn a meteor aside. The spaceship would fly to a position where it could target the front of a meteor heading for earth. It would then focus it's giant "magnifying glass" at the front of the giant rock. As the sun's heat warms the surface of the rock, it gets hotter and hotter until small particles actually begin to smoke and disintegrate. This action causes steam and exhaust to be vented, in front of the meteor, essentially creating a back thrust against the meteors earthward motion. After slowing the meteor to a manageable speed, the beam would be refocused to a point where it could be redirected away from the earth.
Sounds good in theory, but aren't meteors moving? I mean tumbling and rolling? Not fast I know, but fast enough to make focused heat a problem? I don't know, I don't know that much about meteors.
Another guy in California is also working on a project with the same purpose, but a very different approach. He isn't a scientist, he's an ex-astronaut (named Sceitcher or Streither or something odd like that) who was involved in several Apollo flights, and several space walks. He says that after seeing the earth from up there, it suddenly becomes much more precious to you, and that's why he is working on this project to save the earth from a possible disaster. Personally I like his plan better, it just seems to make more sense. He is also building a spaceship, which would actually rendezvous with an earth-bound meteor. His ship would fly directly to the meteor, and matching its earthward speed, gently dock with it. Then the ship would extend large grappling arms, which would be fastened over a large area of the meteor. The ship then fires its thrusters slowly and very gently pushes the meteor out of its impact course.
I like the astronaut's plan better because unlike the thermal ship, the grappling ship would be unmanned, thus reducing many risks of personal error, and loss of life. Although if the thermal one works and the grappling one does not, then I like the thermal one better

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