Chinese researchers have proposed launching a rocket to change the path of an asteroid approaching Earth’s orbit.
Scientists at China’s National Space Science Center estimate that if the asteroid is to be moved too far from Earth’s orbit, it will have to launch 23 long-March 5 Chinese-made rockets.
The researchers looked at an asteroid called Benu. The 7.8 million ton asteroid will come within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit in the next 150 years.
Although it does not sound very worrying, the researchers are not able to be safe. This is because the stone that Benu is made of can do great damage if it hits the earth.
According to the researchers’ calculations, Benu will hit the earth 1 out of 2,700 times. However, the damage can be so great that scientists do not want to take that risk.
The proposal to change the path of the asteroid with the Long March 5 rocket came in a research paper published in the astronomical journal Icarus. This is not the first such study.
NASA plans to launch an automated spacecraft sometime this year to experimentally change the orbits of two asteroids.
The United States has even considered a possible solution for the Benu asteroid when it comes close to Earth.
However, according to the US plan, it will take at least 25 years to prepare, the cost is also high. On the other hand, there is talk of a decade for China’s preparations.
Some scientists have suggested that nuclear weapons could be used to destroy asteroids. However, there is a big risk. Because, if an asteroid breaks, even small particles can hit the earth. It is more reasonable to launch many rockets than this.
NASA has already sent a spacecraft to collect samples of Benu. The Osiris-Rex spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023.