Putting an asteroid into Earth’s orbit… for SCIENCE.

The PRC is at it again, after making plans to make a moon base and have driverless cars. This time they want to do something on par with a super-villain: put an asteroid into Earth’s orbit. To make it easier to aim it at their enemies?

Well, obviously not. The asteroid they’re likely to pick is only going to be about 10 meters in diameter, so it won’t be able to do much even if they shot it right at your house; it would pretty much burn up in the atmosphere before it got anywhere. Look at the asteroid’s web page: 2008EA9’s impact risk, on NASA.

But they do want to somehow nudge it into Earth orbit, so it can be studied–and maybe mined for resources.

If the PRC could nudge 2008EA9 at dv, they could nudge it into earth's orbit and onto the purple line. (Image from TechnologyReview)

The thing would wind up being about twice as far form Earth as the Moon. We’d have a second micro-moon!

In order to make something like that happen, the best aerospace engineers will have to work to make what will probably be a kinetic impactor to bump the asteroid into the right direction. That kind of work involves several phases of design and testing, as well as planning how to deliver the proper impact. Do they slingshot off of another planet to get the perfect angle, or simply launch it in the opposite direction?

They’ll also have to make jokes about how their jobs are “not rocket science.”

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