(ORDO NEWS) — Tracking the rotation of an asteroid as it approaches Earth can reveal the distribution of density within it, much like the rotation of an egg tells you whether it’s cooked or still raw.
Such work will help determine the optimal point for striking and reducing the celestial body from a dangerous trajectory.
Recently, both scientists and the public have paid great attention to the problem of protecting the Earth from the asteroid threat.
Not so long ago, the DART space probe successfully collided with a small celestial body, demonstrating that such an impact could well lead it away from a dangerous path.
However, the optimal way to strike depends not only on the mass and trajectory of the asteroid, but also on its internal structure.
Therefore, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have proposed a new method that allows you to determine this structure remotely.
The principle is to track the trajectory and rotation of an asteroid as it approaches the Earth.
These parameters are determined not only by the mass, speed and shape of the celestial body, but also by the density distribution inside it.
Jack Dinsmore and Julien de Wit of MIT compare this effect to a hen’s egg, which can be rotated to tell if it’s cooked or raw.
This effect was demonstrated in a computer model, on the basis of which scientists developed the AIME (Asteroid Interior Mapping from Encounters) system.
In the near future, researchers are going to test AIME on one of the most famous near-Earth asteroids – Apophis.
“In 2029, Apophis will be close to the Earth and will also fly by on the next approaches, but we cannot be sure that it will remain safe forever,” Jack Dinsmore explained.
“Therefore, it would be good to determine the structure of this asteroid, and if we need to deflect it from the path, we will already understand what it consists of.”
“Knowing the density distribution of the asteroid, you can hit exactly the right point,” added Julien De Wit.
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