Chinese researchers are planning to use the Moon as a base for defending the planet against deadly asteroids wiping the Earth. Read all about it.
Asteroids are harmless space rocks that give us something to stare at when they pass by Earth. However, if they slightly deviate their angle while approaching Earth, it could often mean deadly for us. After all, a large asteroid had done that almost 65 million years ago to wipe dinosaurs out of this planet. But what if humanity has to face such an extinction event in the future? Chinese scientists have proposed a way to use the Moon to protect us from these deadly space rocks!
Wu Weiren, chief designer of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, wrote in a paper published in the Chinese peer-reviewed journal Scientia Sinica Informationis that humans could use the Moon as a base station to defend us from these rocks. With other planetary defense options, everything has to be done from Earth and that could cost us time, which is valuable when a space rock is heading straight for us.
China to use Moon to protect us
The paper proposes an idea that plans to install two powerful space telescopes on the North and South poles of the Moon. These telescopes will looks out for threats that Earth-based telescopes may have missed out on. These could also looks out for the rocks that are approaching from the blind side of the Earth, which is the direction of the Sun. Currently, the telescopes and radar systems cannot look at rocks approaching from towards the Sun.
With the detection system in place, China would then use rockets to deal with the threat. These “guardian rockets” will carry fuel and weapons into the Moon’s orbit. In the case of an incoming asteroid, the system can either deploy one or all the rockets to deal with the rock.
“It will have the ability to intercept incoming asteroids from all directions, and can form a defense circle about twice the distance between the moon and Earth – about 800,000 km. in diameter,” Wu and his colleagues said.
While the system sounds promising, it still remains to be seen if this is possible in reality. Carrying enough fuel and weapons into the Moon’s orbit would require enormous rockets and multiple checks to ensure they work when needed.
Then there’s the case of how to deflect the asteroids. Humans don’t have the technology to vapourize astroids or space rocks, and NASA is currently doing a mission that will test whether hitting a small asteroid can deflect its angle ever so slightly. The most logical way to deal with these rocks is to simply deflect their angle of approach by enough margin so that they pass by peacefully.