A NASA official talked about the possibility of painting the asteroid Bennu to deflect its trajectory. A theoretical possibility “extremely complicated” to implement according to Patrick Michel, a researcher at the National Center For Scientific Research (CNRS), in France.
To paint an asteroid to deflect its trajectory and prevent it from hitting the Earth
This is the crazy project loaned to the US Space Agency, NASA, by several media about the asteroid Bennu. This space object of 3.4 billion tons and 500 meters in diameter, could hit our planet in 2135.
Interviewed by the site Gizmodo, one of the project’s leaders explained that “to paint even half of the surface with a different color would change its thermal properties and change its orbit”.
But the reality is less artistic and we should not “confuse paper studies with concrete, funded projects,” recalls Patrick Michel, an astrophysicist at CNRS.
For the scientist, painting the asteroid is not, for the moment, a realistic idea.
The project is based on modifying the thermal properties of asteroids by painting them in order to modify the space rock’s exposure to the sun, which will lead to deflecting the asteroids’ trajectory, supposedly.
Theoretically, by modifying the thermal properties of the object, its trajectory could be deflected, according to Patrick Michel from CNRS, but it remains extremely complicated to practically implement such a theory.
A projectile to be tested in 2023
In 2023, a probe, Osiris-Rex, has to take samples from the asteroid Bennu to bring them back to Earth. Other possibilities, such as sending a nuclear bomb to the asteroid, could be working but there is no way to test it.
“It will never be tested because it is forbidden to send weapons into space, thankfully,” said Patrick Michel.
In conclusion, NASA talks about the possibility of painting the asteroid Bennu to deflect its trajectory and avoid the Earth to collide with it in 2135 will most probably remain just talks and theories, at least, according to Patrick Michel, a researcher at the CNRS, in France.