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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including those from the School of Psychological Sciences & Health - but also papers by researchers based within the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, and from the Strathclyde Business School.

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Deflection of near-Earth asteroids by kinetic energy impacts from retrograde objects

McInnes, C.R. (2004) Deflection of near-Earth asteroids by kinetic energy impacts from retrograde objects. Planetary and Space Science, 52 (7). pp. 587-590. ISSN 0032-0633

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Abstract

Previous studies of non-nuclear diversion of near Earth asteroids have largely ignored the use of pure kinetic energy impacts, partly due to apparent limits on impact speeds of 10-15 km s−1. Here, I will consider the use of a near-term solar sail to deliver an inert projectile onto a retrograde solar orbit, thus raising impact speeds to at least 60 km s−1. Such high-energy orbits increase the energy liberated during impact by a factor of 40 or more, while reducing the required projectile mass by at least 95%. This considerable reduction in projectile mass allows kilometre-sized asteroids to be diverted with current launch vehicles, near-term technologies and at a cost comparable to a modest deep space mission.