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An Australian researcher has won an international prize for her plan to wrap a giant asteroid with reflective sheeting to stop it colliding with the earth and destroying all life.
Such an impact would have the force of 110,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs if the asteroid, which actually exists, hits the planet in 2036, said Mary D'Souza, a PhD student with the University of Queensland's School of Engineering.
Far from being daunted by the prospect of global annihilation, Ms D'Souza went to work on a possible solution and took out the top prize in an international competition to find new ways of stopping asteroids from hitting Earth.
The solar reflecting material is already used on satellites.
Satellites also could do the wrapping.
"I'm using a satellite that's orbiting the asteroid and the rotation of the asteroid itself to wrap this ribbon," Ms D'Souza said.
"So it's kind of like it wraps as it rotates."
The Mylar film covering just 50 per cent of the asteroid would change its surface from dull to reflective, a necessary step to harness the power of the sun.
"What happens then is light from the sun shines on the body (of the asteroid) so more of it is reflected ... and it actually acts to move it away from the sun and the earth."