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ShortCut: How can we use the Yarkovsky effect to deflect asteroids?

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ShortCut: How can we use the Yarkovsky effect to deflect asteroids?

Although it is not an enormous threat to get hit from asteroids as a worst-case scenario in our daily life, scientists contemplate umpteen and distinctive ways to deflect asteroids in order to avert an even bigger crisis. And, one of them includes using the Sun itself as a thrust force on asteroids to alter their orbits. In other words, the light beams generated by the electromagnetic radiation emitted from the Sun creates a huge heat gap between the one side of the asteroid and the other side so that the body of the asteroid accelerates since it gets angular momentum due to the heat difference. By this effect, the asteroid is forced to change its orbit in compliance with the law of conservation of angular momentum and the electromagnetic force, which is known as the Yarkovsky effect. The reason is as follows.

“Perhaps one of the strangest ideas for saving the world from killer asteroids derives from the work of 19th-century Russian engineer Ivan Yarkovsky. In general, asteroids spin as they travel through space. Yarkovsky showed that this spinning skews the way that heat is radiated from an asteroid’s surface. This creates an acceleration on the rock that, over time, can alter its orbit around the Sun. As an asteroid rotates, it has a ‘dawn hemisphere’, the side where the surface is rotating from darkness into sunlight, and a ‘dusk hemisphere’ where the surface rotating from sunlight back into darkness again. The dusk hemisphere is warmer(because it’s just been in bright sunlight) and so radiates more heat is carried than the dawn hemisphere. Because the heat is carried away as photons of electromagnetic radiation, which pack momentum, the radiation exerts a recoil on the asteroid that influences its orbit over time(1).”

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Figure - 72.1

References

(1) Parsons, Paul. "The Yarkovsky Effect." How To Destroy The Universe: And 34 Other Really Interesting Uses of Physics. London: Quercus, 2012. 49-50-51. Print.

Figure - 72.1 https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11964