posted on May, 19 2004 @ 08:23 AM
Researchers from SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) are examing a new approach on dealing with Asteroids, nuclear-powered robotic drills, that would
"hurl chunks of it into space with enough force to gradually push it into a non-Earth impacting course." A preliminary study into the robots has
been completed, and has been awarded by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC).
At the movies, the best way to stop an asteroid from wiping out Earth is to lob a few nuclear missiles at the rocky beast or blow it apart from the
inside with megaton bombs.
While those methods promise some fantastic explosions -- and maybe a blockbuster hit -- a team of engineers are looking at a more patient approach.
Their weapon: a swarm of nuclear-powered robots that could drill into an asteroid and hurl chunks of it into space with enough force to gradually push
it into a non-Earth impacting course.
With the first phase of the study complete, SEI researchers are awaiting a decision from NIAC on whether to fund a second round of research that would
focus, among other things, on the design of a technology-testing precursor mission to be carried out in the next decade.
"Phase two means going into more detail, building a roadmap to develop the enabling technology for these projects," Casanova said. "We'd like to
think that NASA would be interested in these projects once a phase two study is finished."