Hitting an Asteroid With Millions of Radio Waves is the Latest Wild Idea of Astronomers

Hitting an Asteroid With Millions of Radio Waves is the Latest Wild Idea of Astronomers
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You may have never heard about the term ‘2010 XC15’ until now, but it’s ok. That’s the name of an asteroid that approaches our Earth today, December 27. But there’s no use to worry in case you are preparing for the end of the world, as the asteroid is not on a collision course with our planet. 

If you’ve been reading our previous posts, perhaps you already know about the success of the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission of NASA. The mission implied the space agency sending a spacecraft on a collision course with Dimorphos, a small asteroid orbiting a larger one called Didymos, in order to change its trajectory through space.

While simply nudging an asteroid could save the Earth one day from an apocalyptic event, astronomers still need to learn more about these space rocks. That’s why they’re now focusing their attention on the 2010 XC15.

Using the HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) array

Researchers from NASA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) plan to use the HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) array to inflict 9.6 megahertz radio waves at the 2010 XC15 asteroid, according to InterestingEngineering.com.

The goal is to prepare for examining the Apophis asteroid in more detail, a space rock that has a slight theoretical chance of colliding with Earth one day. The Apophis asteroid is estimated to be about 1,100 feet (340 meters) in diameter. This makes it a relatively large asteroid, although it is still much smaller than some of the larger objects in the solar system. 

The Apophis asteroid is not currently on a collision course with Earth. According to NASA, the asteroid will pass close to our planet in 2029, but it will not hit our planet. The asteroid’s closest approach to Earth in 2029 will be about 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers), which is about 8% of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. While this is a relatively close approach for an asteroid, it is not considered to be a threat to Earth.

The asteroid was previously believed to have a small chance of hitting Earth in 2036, but further observations and analysis have ruled out this possibility. There is currently no known risk of the asteroid hitting Earth in the foreseeable future.

Delving into the 2010 XC15 asteroid

The researchers are conducting a study on the asteroid 2010 XC15 using radio waves of a lower frequency and longer wavelength in order to gain a deeper understanding of the asteroid’s internal structure. This is in contrast to previous studies that only focused on the surface of the asteroid. The use of lower frequency and longer wavelength radio waves allows the researchers to penetrate deeper into the asteroid and gather more detailed information about its internal composition. By gaining insight into the asteroid’s interior, the researchers hope to learn more about its overall structure and properties.

Mark Haynes, a lead researcher, and engineer at NASA, explained as the same publication mentioned above quotes:

What’s new and what we are trying to do is probe asteroid interiors with long wavelength radars and radio telescopes from the ground. Longer wavelengths can penetrate the interior of an object.

He also added:

If you know the distribution of mass, you can make an impactor more effective because you’ll know where to hit the asteroid a little better.

It is important to note that asteroids and comets can be difficult to predict with certainty because their orbits can be affected by the gravitational pull of other objects in the solar system, as well as non-gravitational forces such as solar radiation pressure. Therefore, it is possible that the orbit of the Apophis asteroid could change in the future, but it is not currently considered to be a threat to Earth.


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Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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