'Gravity Tractor' May Prevent Us From Going Out Like The Dinosaurs (Read: In Style)
Apparently some people are worried that the earth might get struck by an asteroid at some point in time and screw up humankind's plans to eff this world up on our own. Yeah -- who invited you, asteroid?! So what do we do? Build a Gravity Tractor (suck it, John Deere!) to avert certain death. Bitchin'.
NASA's Near Earth Object program currently has 145 potentially hazardous asteroids on its list out of 1,062 objects larger than one kilometer in diameter, and 6,292 total discovered objects. What's all that mean? Well, that there's a lot of stuff out there that could potentially impact our planet -- some of it pretty big.
So instead of sending shuttle crews up at the last minute to blow an approaching asteroid up, British astronomers at the Astrophysics Research Centre are planning to build a 10-ton "gravity tractor" spacecraft that will influence the object's trajectory. The process would take some time -- a craft would have to be launched 15 years in advance to really have an effect -- but, once the tractor arrives, it'd hover close by an asteroid and gently guide it along a different path.
Listen NASA, I know we've had our differences in the past (I never touched that alien!), but I would like to volunteer to drive the Gravity Tractor. I have every reason to believe I'd be the perfect candidate: I have mowed my parents' yard several times and I only hit the fence twice and ran over a sprinkler. Also, I have a natural passion for heavy machinery, especially after drinking. You think about it.