The “collision-course” always sends chills down the spine. No man in this world would want the Earth to die by colliding with the asteroids. The astronomers from NASA and ESA have already started a mission named ‘Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment’. Recently, a group of scientists are experimenting on a meteorite, in order to understand the physical properties of near-Earth asteroids.

Carles Moyano, Josep Trigo and their team published a paper in the Astrophysical Journal. The paper is titled “Nanoindenting the Chelyabinsk Meteorite to learn about Impact Deflection Effects in asteroids”. Clearly, the Chelyabinsk meteorite was the basis of this study.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite was a superbolide. An approximately 20 metres near-Earth asteroid caused this superbolide. It entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013. It approached with a speed of 19.16 kilometres per second. Unlike other meteors, it was about 20 metres in diameter and about 12,000-13,000 metric tonnes in weight. It is also the largest natural object that entered Earth’s atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event.

Chelyabinsk meteor captured during its travel into Earth.
Source: youtube

The paper reads, “The Chelyabinsk meteorite is a highly shocked, low porosity, ordinary chondrite”. The nanoindentation experiments on this, allowed them to especially understand the physical properties of the near-Earth asteroids. The tests at different length scale gave an idea about the mechanical properties of the minerals forming this meteorite. Also the tests, are useful in understanding the ‘potential to deflect threatening asteroids using a kinetic potential’.

Scientists from Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC)-Spain, Autonomous University of Barcelona-Spain and University of London-UK are working on this. Astronomers from Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics-German, University of Nice and ESA are also a part of this research.

Moyano, a team member said, “These results are relevant to the growing interest in missions to test asteroid deflection”. He also added, “one such example is the recent collaboration between ESA and NASA, known as the AIDA mission”.


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