B612 Team Involved in Deflecting Deadly Asteroids

B612 team involved in deflecting deadly asteroids

The Earth remains under constant threat, as it cycles endlessly around the Sun. Swarms of near earth asteroids (NEAs) regularly approach our planet, as they too orbit our star. These asteroids are the cosmic remnants of our solar system’s inception, ranging wildly in size from small pebbles to gigantic structures many miles in diameter. However, a team of highly ambitious astronomers, working under the banner of the B612 project, hope to be a part of an advanced system to deflect deadly asteroid bodies.

Deadly Near Earth Asteroids

Over a million of these NEAs have the power to inflict damage a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima during the Second World War. Alarmingly, the Tunguska event that took place in 1908 was the largest recorded impact event, as an asteroid exploded approximately five to ten kilometers above the Earth’s surface; however, this asteroid was only approximately 50 to 100 meters in diameter and was still capable of devastating over a thousand square miles of land, wiping out thousands of trees.

This is part of the justification for the B612 team. Astronauts Ed Lu and Rusty Schweickart began their journey over a decade ago, vowing to help save the planet from potential asteroid extinction events. In October 2001, a group of top experts, whose backgrounds ranged from asteroid studies to propulsion technologies, convened at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston. The team’s primary ambitions involved the development of cost-effective solutions to deal with dangerously orbiting asteroids.

The crew immediately dismissed the use of nuclear explosives, since they were deemed unsafe and unpredictable. However, a much safer suggestion involved the use of a “nuclear-powered plasma engine.” Once such a device lands on the surface of the asteroid, the body’s orbit can be adjusted by using the engine almost like a tugboat.

The B612 team argue there to be no detailed, dynamic map of the inner solar system, with regard to the relative trajectories of life-threatening asteroids. The group explain the dangers of future impact events:

“The probability of a 100 Megaton impact somewhere on Earth each and every year is the same as the probability of an individual being killed in an automobile accident each year – about .01%.”

The researchers confess the odds are relatively small. However, they argue people wear seatbelts to protect themselves during car collisions; when it comes to protection from asteroid collision events, however, the human race remains defenceless.

The Sentinel Mission

As a part of their strategy, B612 aims to launch its Sentinel mission between 2017 and 2018. Sentinel will take approximately four years to construct, and will be launched into space atop a Flacon 9 rocket to orbit the

Sentinel B612 project aims to explore near earth asteroids

The Sentinel project aims to explore the trajectories and positions of various near earth asteroids

Sun once every seven months. The Ball Aerospace corporation has been contracted for the build – the same company that assembled the Keplar, Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, as well as the Deep Impact Mission.

Scott Hubbard, the B612 Foundation Program Architect, boasts about the mission’s ambitious plans. He indicates the Sentinel mission could facilitate other space ventures, and map “… the presence of 1000′s of near earth objects [to] create a new scientific database…”

The device will use infrared technology to detect and monitor the trajectories and positions of thousands of asteroids. Specifically, over the course of 6.5 years of operation, it is estimated that Sentinel will discover 500,000 NEAs, cataloguing vital information on over 90% of asteroid bodies greater than 140 meters in size.

Using this information, astronomers can determine an asteroid collision event, years before it even happens. To prevent a collision event, the researchers will need to implement their deflection capabilities a decade in advance.

The mission is a private endeavor, and will cost around $450 million. NASA have been incredibly enthusiastic over the mission’s ambitions, with B612 partnering with the space agency to share retrieved datasets. NASA even plans to use its Deep Space Network to facilitate the transmission of data from Sentinel back to ground control.

Deflecting asteroids

Provided with enough time before collision, scientists believe they already have the technology necessary to deflect deadly asteroids.

Aside from the nuclear-powered plasma engine concept, another lauded strategy involves the use of a kinetic impactor. Kinetic impactors are relatively simplistic in principle. Essentially, an object with a heavy mass is launched towards an asteroid to knock it off course.

Kinetic impactor devices may be used to change orbit

The use of kinetic impactors is just one potential means of changing a NEA’s orbit

This idea has already been explored by Frank Schäfer of the Fraunhofer Institute for High Speed-Dynamics, in Freiburg. Schäfer works with the NEOShield Project, which is heavily involved in learning more about NEA trajectories and how mankind can prevent them.

During simulations, Schäfer established that aluminum-based projectiles offered the best transfer of kinetic energy from impactor to asteroid. When performing experiments with models, he established that the ejecta, which is cast off from the asteroid during the impactor’s collision, would have its own recoil; as a result, both the impactor and asteroid debris would serve to oppose the movement of the asteroid body, causing its orbit to shift.

Hopefully, armed with the B612′s Sentinel device, and the astronomical community’s asteroid deflecting technologies, potential deadly extinction events can be avoided.

By: James Fenner

LV Guardian Express Link

B612 Website

NEOShield Project Site

Space.com Source

Discover Source

2 Responses to B612 Team Involved in Deflecting Deadly Asteroids

  1. Robert J. Trembley September 20, 2013 at 4:26 am

    James: I’m putting together a Lecture: “Asteroids, Near Earth Objects, and Meteorites” that I’ll be giving to my local library, and at two Science Fiction Conventions. I absolutely love the first three sentences of your article, and would like to quote you in my lecture!

    NEOs are kinda a “Big Thing” with me.

    • James Fenner September 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      Hey Robert. Thanks for the comment, and for reading my article! You’re more than welcome to share any part of my article for your lecture – I would be honored. I’ve also done another article on the NEOShield Project, which is located in the sources section. If you would like more information, the other links are brilliant as well.

      Thanks again for reading!

      Kind regards,



We will read your comment immediately so leave a remark!

RSS Guardian Express

  • Obesity Society Recommends Kids Drink Fewer Sugar Sweetened Beverages April 24, 2014
    The ever-expanding line of sugary drinks may actually be contributing to the obesity epidemic, especially when it comes to kids. Even one sugary drink per day can contribute to weight gain, which is why The Obesity Society is now recommending fewer sugar sweetened beverages for kids. This includes soda, sports drinks and any other beverages […]
    Tracy Rose
  • Christians Faced With New Dilemma April 24, 2014
    Many who consider themselves Christians are finding themselves faced with a new dilemma. These so-called “Christ-followers,” except for a few hiccups, have tried to follow Jesus (who they see as the Son of God) as much as their limited selfish condition will allow. But lately, they find themselves encountering people or groups of people who are ready and […]
    Rick Hope
  • Kaley Cuoco Chops Hair for Real This Time April 24, 2014
    Kaley Cuoco has chopped of her hair for real this time. It is not quick Miley Cyrus short, but it is much shorter than the Big Bang star is used to. To make it clear that this time is was not a prank at the expense of her fans, she shared a photo of herself […]
    Alexandria Ingham
  • Avril Lavigne New ‘Helly Kitty’ Song Racist? April 24, 2014
    Hundreds of people recently took to Twitter to complain about Avril Lavigne’s new song Hello Kitty being racist. However, others have defended the decision to use the colorful, girly, cupcake style entertainment in her new music video. For many, the new track is just downright terrible. The new music video involves four deadpan Japanese girls […]
    Alexandria Ingham
  • HBO and Amazon Team Up Against Netflix April 24, 2014
    HBO has teamed up with Amazon Prime against Netflix to allow Prime members the ability to watch HBO classics like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under as well as some of the newer popular shows like True Blood. However, Amazon Prime members should not get too excited as their, nearly, $100 per year subscription fee […]
    Michael Smith

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 629 other subscribers