Military Review

Earth - Apophis: dangerous convergence


Astronomers around the world do not stop their observations of the flight of Apophis, an asteroid, which after some time will approach a very small distance to the Earth.

A few years ago, the message about this rapprochement very excited the public, but at the present time people practically don’t remember it. But experts remember well.

For the first time, a dangerous asteroid was discovered by American astronomers from the Keith Peak National Observatory, which is located in Arizona. Its very name speaks for itself, because the asteroid was named Apophis, and this is how the ancient Greek god of destruction and darkness was called. This god was depicted in the form of a huge destroyer snake that lived in the underworld and from there tried to destroy the Sun, while it makes a night transition. It should be noted that the choice of such a name for an asteroid is quite justified and traditional, because from the very beginning all celestial bodies were called by the names of the ancient gods, and only then they only began to call the names of those who actually existed historical characters.

Scientists have found that the asteroid once every seven years crosses the near-Earth orbit, and with each new “visit” it increasingly reduces the distance to the planet. According to experts, Apophis will approach a little more than 35 thousands of kilometers in April 2029 of the year, and it can collide with the Earth in 2036.

A little earlier, at the beginning of 2011, at one of the scientific conferences held in Moscow, Leonid Sokolov, an employee of St. Petersburg State University, even named the most probable date of the collision, namely 13, April 2036, was named. At the same time, scientists have not been able to determine exactly where the point of impact will be. Still, there are certain assumptions put forward by Boris Shustov, Director of the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to him, the asteroid can collide with the Earth in the zone from the Urals, along the border of Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, through the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Central American territories, waters of the Atlantic and to the African coast. In addition, it is not so easy to accurately predict the asteroid's orbit. The fact is that there is a Yarkovsky effect, the essence of which lies in the existence of a small but effective force. It manifests itself in the fact that on the one hand an asteroid emits more heat than on the other. When the asteroid turns away from the Sun, it begins to radiate heat accumulated in the upper layers. Thus, a small reactive force appears, which acts in the opposite direction to the heat flow. Scientists do not even suggest exactly how this effect can affect the trajectory of Apophis, about which virtually nothing is known - neither the speed of rotation nor the direction of the axis along which it rotates. But these parameters are necessary for determining the Yarkovsky effect.

But Russian scientists are rushing to reassure the public, declaring that the probability of hitting is very small, it is approximately 1 to 100 thousands. The reason for such confidence of scientists in the relative safety of Apophis for the Earth lies in the fact that they were able to more accurately determine its orbit. At the same time, scientists do not exclude the fact that even if there is no collision in the 2036 year, this may well happen in subsequent years. At the same time, Russian astronomers rely on the results of NASA research, according to which in this century about 11 collisions with the planet are expected, and 4 from these collisions may occur before the 2050 year.

If, however, the collision of Apophis and the Earth occurs, mankind is in mortal danger. Despite the fact that an asteroid itself is small (its diameter is about 270-320 meters), an object with a mass of several tens of millions of tons hit the surface of the planet at high speed (about 50 thousands of kilometers per hour) with an will be equal to 506 megatons. Thus, in the case of "contact", the energy of the explosion can be compared with the detonation of the entire nuclear weaponsthat exists on the planet. Damaging factors will be similar to the effects of a nuclear weapon explosion, except that there will be no radiation.

At the same time, Russian scientists claim that according to the study, the probability of death from a collision with an asteroid is approximately 1 to 200 thousands.

It should be noted that today under the scrutiny of domestic and American scientists are more 830 potentially dangerous asteroids, and among them there are larger in size than Apophis. Therefore, a collision with any of them can completely destroy the planet. According to Boris Shustov, the most dangerous is the recently discovered asteroid, which the planet may encounter in eight hundred years. “I am glad” only that celestial objects of similar sizes appear within the Earth once every tens of millions of years.

Currently, according to scientists, there are about 7 thousands of celestial objects that converge with the planet Earth, of which about one-seventh are potentially dangerous. At the same time, American astronomers say that after 2029, humanity will have enough time to slightly move Apophis from its orbit in such a way that it does not fall into the so-called "gravity well", that is, the field that is located on the approaches to the planet and which the asteroid can send directly to it. Therefore, several methods have been proposed for shifting a celestial object from its shaved, in particular: a powerful frontal impact, changing the orbit with the help of a rocket engine used as a “tractor”. In addition, you can try to change the trajectory of the asteroid by exploding a nuclear charge on its surface.

According to a leading researcher at the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics Alexander Bagrov, today mankind has created more than 40 different tools to deal with various celestial objects that are dangerous to the planet. The most discussed are the two options - the Russian, which involves placing a radio beacon on an asteroid, and the US, which involves a nuclear attack by Apophis in the event of its critical approach to the Earth.

In addition, there are other equally interesting developments. Thus, in particular, the European Union plans to allocate about 4 million euros for a three-year project called NEO-Shield. The project will bring together scientists from six states who should develop various ways to protect against potentially dangerous celestial objects. A certain amount of funds (about 1,8 million euros) will be allocated by European research institutes and enterprises associated with the aerospace industry. By the way, it was these structures that actively supported the initiative of the European Union, because earlier he had not allocated money for such studies. By the time the funding coincided with a cutback in the US state budget for the space industry. Thus, from the point of view of theoretical developments, Europeans can feel pride about the fact that it was they who had the honorable mission of saving the planet. But at the same time, this project does not imply the practical implementation of the developed strategies.

According to representatives of the aerospace European company Astrium, the construction of a real shield against asteroids will require significant investments (about 300 million euros), and the Europeans do not have such an amount. By the way, it was precisely because of the lack of money that the Don Quixote project was not brought to its logical conclusion, the essence of which was to send a companion ram to Hidalgo (another dangerous asteroid) to change the trajectory of the latter.

Russian astronomers are also not lagging behind, but their research on the detection of potentially dangerous celestial objects is carried out only within the framework of scientific research institutes. So, in one of the Russian research institutes, the Makeev missile center, at this time, the development of two spacecraft designed to fight asteroids is underway. One of them, Kaissa, is designed to perform reconnaissance functions, in particular, to assess the chemical composition, structure, and trajectory of asteroids. The other, the “Trap,” is a percussion apparatus carrying a number of nuclear warheads. We will remind, earlier from the scientists of the center there were proposals to destroy all potentially dangerous objects with nuclear weapons. At the same time, delivery of warheads shall be carried out with the help of the Soyuz-2 and Rus-M launch vehicles.

But still, America currently holds the first positions in the study of potentially dangerous celestial bodies. In the United States there are several of the largest centers that identify small planets and space threats. Thus, they get 99 percent of all information on the subject.

At the same time, American scientists are trying to block access to other states to their research data. So, for example, in the 2000 year, they banned Russian scientists from using the results of their observations of the geostationary orbit, and later 9 years - and data on observations of the entry of fireballs into the earth’s atmosphere. In such conditions, Russia simply has to create its own program for monitoring potentially dangerous objects and seek cooperation with other states. In addition, Roscosmos fears that, due to the alleged collision of Earth and Apophis, a new arms race may begin in the world, the end result of which will be the creation of the latest means of armed confrontation not only on the planet, but also in near-earth orbit.

If we talk about American developments in this area, then you can not ignore the project, unique in its essence - Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle (HAIV). Its essence is to create a nuclear interceptor of asteroids. By and large, we can say that this program developed by NASA is aimed at creating technologies to protect the planet from the possible consequences of an asteroid impact. HAIV itself is a spacecraft, which with the help of kinetic energy can penetrate into the asteroid, and then a nuclear bomb should fire. Thus, either the complete destruction of the celestial object will occur, or it will be possible to move it from the trajectory. At the same time, debris will not be dangerous to the Earth. This technology is expected to become most effective in the fight against asteroids - less than ten years before the collision, the device will be able to respond to the threat.

It will directly intercept the celestial body following the example of the EKV interceptor of the US missile defense system. Homing technologies with the use of optical systems and guidance in the first parts of the trajectory have been developed to a sufficient degree, however, there are certain problems. So, for example, if we take into account that the velocity of the collision of an apparatus with an asteroid will be approximately 10-30 kilometers per second, then the apparatus will not have enough kinetic energy to destroy the asteroid. The fact is that modern technologies have not yet reached the level of development at which a nuclear device could be undermined at high speed, since the impact of the components of this device will be completely destroyed and there will simply be no explosion.

That is why the project developers have designed a special bow, which will be separated and which should pierce a hole in the asteroid, roughly speaking, a hole so that an interceptor with a nuclear bomb can safely enter the depths of the asteroid. If the calculations of NASA experts are justified, then a nuclear explosion will have a power of about 6 megatons.

Of particular interest is the project of the company from the United States SEI. Its essence is to launch small robots on the asteroid. They should burrow into the surface of the object, throw the rock into space and thus change its trajectory.

Another American nonprofit structure - the B612 Foundation, which included scientists and former NASA astronauts, offers to launch an infrared telescope into space for 2017-2018, which will search and track potentially dangerous asteroids. The name of the organization is borrowed from literature, from the story of A. de Saint-Exupery “The Little Prince”. Everyone who is part of it is convinced that American astronomers do not pay enough attention to small asteroids, preferring to study large objects whose diameter is at least one kilometer. Their telescope, on the contrary, is designed to track small celestial objects. The Sentinel telescope will be in a near-earth orbit of about 5,5 years at a distance of 50-270 millions of kilometers from the planet. Thus, it is assumed that for the entire period of its stay in space, the telescope should find about 90 percent of all small asteroids, whose diameter is more than 150 meters. To implement the project requires several hundred million dollars.

There are international developments. So, quite recently the technology of “painting” celestial objects was developed, which is designed to protect the planet from a potential threat. Scientists from the University of Texas, together with the Ames Research Center (NASA) and the research center of Saudi Arabian ruler Abdel Aziz, have contributed to the development of anti-asteroid technology. They proposed to change the trajectory of the asteroids without using nuclear weapons. The essence of their technology is to influence the motion of a celestial object by changing its reflectivity. To do this, using a special unmanned spacecraft, apply paint (either light or dark) to the surface of the asteroid. At the same time, the Yarkovsky effect will actively take effect. Since the reactive force that occurs under its influence is very small, it can be significantly increased with the help of contrasting colors. Scientists want to try their method on Apophis. At the very beginning of the mission, called Apophis Mitigation Technology Mission (AMTM), it is supposed to send a small-sized reconnaissance aircraft to determine the parameters of the asteroid. Then a spacecraft equipped with an electrostatic painting unit, which will cover some parts of Apophis with paint, should go to it. According to scientists, this will give the opportunity to change the asteroid albedo and reject its trajectory by about three degrees.

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  1. JonnyT
    JonnyT 2 October 2012 08: 31
    That’s an occasion to rally the whole Earth and fight against a common threat! Plus, this struggle will push the development of the whole science of scientific and technological revolution, so to speak!
    1. Ascetic
      Ascetic 2 October 2012 09: 43
      Quote: JonnyT
      That’s an occasion to rally the whole Earth and fight against a common threat! Plus, this struggle will push the development of the whole science of scientific and technological revolution, so to speak!

      It is necessary to unite with America, China, France and create "Asteroid missile defense" (not a single country will master the project alone).

      Urgently summon the stellar American admirals and the holy trinity of Schwarzneiger, Stallone and Bruce Willis to the Pentagon (leave Tom Cruise as a reserve) and send them to the ISS to prepare the landing on the asteroid ... laughing

      Well, seriously, we do not have specialized tools for detecting potentially dangerous asteroids. Now more than 95% of optical observations are made from the USA and in cooperation with the USA. It has long been a situation that all observations made on asteroids and comets are sent to the Minor Planet Center, which is controlled by NASA. Previously, Americans published intelligence data on the entry of bodies into the atmosphere. Then this information was closed. And no one bothers them to close information about near-Earth asteroids. So Russia is vulnerable in this regard. We do not have our own center for collecting, analyzing and storing data. Now we are trying to organize an independent system for monitoring dangerous objects and warning of their fall to Earth by the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the involvement of aerospace defense forces. It remains to be hoped that everything will succeed and we will break through the thorns of the Russian bureaucracy and corruption towards the stars and asteroids.
      1. JonnyT
        JonnyT 2 October 2012 11: 29
        And tell me please, is there an opportunity to implement a controlled fall of an asteroid? I mean, can an asteroid that has flown from the depths of space be directed to a certain point on the planet?
        1. Wedmak
          Wedmak 2 October 2012 11: 35
          Theoretically, yes. Only it is necessary to fly there, put the engines, bring fuel, fasten the steering wheel ... well, you understand.
        2. Ascetic
          Ascetic 2 October 2012 11: 47
          Quote: JonnyT
          And tell me please, is there an opportunity to implement a controlled fall of an asteroid? I mean, can an asteroid that has flown from the depths of space be directed to a certain point on the planet?

          In theory, you can, of course, like any solid physical body, if you give it the appropriate momentum and thrust vector. In this case, you need a powerful space tractor-tractor with a colossal amount of energy and efficiency for a fully controlled flight of a cosmic body. Today, the level of technology development and the existing types of energies mastered by mankind can only change its course in order to avoid a collision. Alas, gravitational controlled fields are not yet available to humans. Therefore, the tractor tractor will accompany the asteroid at a distance of 50 meters as long as possible. His task will be to change the trajectory of the object, and, as a consequence, reduce the likelihood of a collision of a cosmic body with the Earth. The only bad thing is that it can take years. For example, in order to change the trajectory of the asteroid by 2,5 cm, it may take 15 years. therefore The tractor tractor must be started long before the expected moment of collision.
        3. SHILO
          SHILO 2 October 2012 13: 52
          Johnny I like the way you think !!! A plus. good
  2. snek
    snek 2 October 2012 08: 38
    Firstly, the probability of runoff is vanishingly small.
    Second, the
    may cause an explosion whose power will be equal to 506 megatons. Thus, in the case of “contact” the energy of the explosion can be compared with the detonation of all nuclear weapons that exist on the planet

    The "Tsar Bomb" was 50 megatons, so this is not a scary figure. There will be a lot of fun, of course, there will be a lot of victims (depending on the region of the fall, of course), but civilization will not be covered with a copper basin.
    1. Nickname
      Nickname 2 October 2012 10: 54
      How to say ... And 10 king bombs is not enough? Truhanet the earth - it will not seem a little. It can provoke earthquakes, tsunamis. And how many critical volcanoes wake up. Here in Iceland one smoked, so paralyzed the entire European air traffic.
    2. Beck
      Beck 2 October 2012 18: 49
      Something the author of the article did not mention about the "keyhole". It seems that this well is Apofes.

      Yes, the trajectory of the orbit of Apophes is close to Earth. But if nothing affects Apophes, then he will never collide with the Earth. So it will fly every 7 years near the Earth.

      The problem is different. In the "keyhole". There is one coordinate near the Earth and it is located close to the trajectory of Apofes. Now, if Apofes gets into this coordinate, then the Earth's gravity is insignificant, but it will change the trajectory of Apofes' orbit. Then, flying along a changed trajectory, and returning after seven years to the Earth, Apofes may collide with the Earth.

      Now the scientific world is excited not by the fact that right now Apofes will collide with the Earth, but by the fact that Apofes will fall into the "keyhole".
      1. Wedmak
        Wedmak 2 October 2012 19: 39
        Not the coordinate, but a very narrow corridor. If he passes through it, then the next visit to Earth will be his last. And maybe for us.
        1. Beck
          Beck 2 October 2012 19: 57

          Respected. We are not scientists. For us, a narrow corridor, the coordinate is one and the same - a point in space. I think that everyone will understand what I meant by the coordinate and everyone will understand the narrow corridor. This is a certain point in space near the Earth, where, God forbid, Apophes flies.

          Although even if it flies, we will have another 7 years on countermeasures.
  3. Sakhalininsk
    Sakhalininsk 2 October 2012 08: 39
    Interesting article.
    In any case, the world's population needs to develop technology to the point where it appears to destroy space objects such as asteroids and meteorites on distant approaches. In any case, it’s better than military thought to work on creating means of destruction of such objects, and not similar ones.
  4. Z.A.M.
    Z.A.M. 2 October 2012 09: 27
    The article causes only a bitter grin.
    Anyone who is even a little interested in such topics will not find anything new in it.
    The grin is caused by "ways to avoid" collisions. Delirium on delirium, and delirium drives laughing
    Not long ago "Phobos-soil" fell, and what have we all seen? The time and place of the collision, almost until the last moment, was .... UNKNOWN! So, all these "digging robots", "painters" (not to mention atomic charges fool ), this is not even science fiction, but some kind of "yellow fantasy".
    In addition, such a small part of all cosmic, small (relatively) objects is tracked that we can simply recognize, in fact, the accomplishment of something.
    So far, you can think about this problem only from the perspective of fatalism, alas ...
    But the topic of space debris is very relevant. The man has already managed to make the near space, 100-350 km, pretty good at guessing. About 10000 objects are tracked, the largest (their orbits, speeds, rotation, etc.). But there are plenty of "small" ones, like a missed wrench ...
    It is possible because of such "little things" that the launch vehicles will crash. If it doesn't happen already. I think they will not say about this.
    I am writing this to the fact that everyone who is interested in space topics should study more serious literature, and not similar "Ren-TV" -isk and "TV-3" nonsense wink
    1. Nickname
      Nickname 2 October 2012 11: 02
      and not similar "Ren-TV" -isky and "TV-3" nonsense
      RenTV is a good channel. And he presents "nonsense" from different points of view. And his source is the Air Force, Discovery, etc. So don't, or provide an example of serious literature. And believe me, there are opponents who will call your literature nonsense. It has always been this way

      PS And TV-3 really sucks, and the fool Chapman would have strangled smile
    2. Volkhov
      Volkhov 2 October 2012 11: 02
      Real collision avoidance methods were worked out in the Deep Impact project with comet Tempel 1 in 2005. The first collision survey was very informative - you could see the illumination and the ionization boundary, and this was from the Hubble, and the base vehicle was knocked out by EMP tens of kilometers from the point of impact. Everything is in the public domain, only few people look.
      This was the first experiment with contact warheads, invented in Russia, made in the USA. Politically, the division of labor in the system is visible here - we are cab drivers and suppliers of raw materials.
  5. Trailer
    Trailer 2 October 2012 09: 51
    may collide with the Earth in the zone from the Urals, along the border of Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan But this good is not necessary! And the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was more than enough!
    PARROT 2 October 2012 10: 13
    If earlier it was assumed that the probability of an object colliding with the Earth is 1:45 000, now this figure has decreased to 1: 250 000. According to the Turin scale, the danger in 2004 was rated at 4 (Guinness record), but it was soon reduced to 0.
  7. borisst64
    borisst64 2 October 2012 10: 33
    Something is not heard about the three objects that entered the solar system a couple of years ago and should approach the Earth at the end of 2012.
    1. Wedmak
      Wedmak 2 October 2012 11: 05
      Believe more ... Pluto's radius is 1195 km (diameter is 2390 km), the diameter of the largest of these supposedly objects is 240 km. Until now, Pluto in the photographs looks like just a round speck, without any details. And then we saw as many as three objects less than 10 times, and even determined what it was and what shape! Geniuses, what can I say ...
    2. Beck
      Beck 2 October 2012 20: 10

      In fact, nothing can enter the solar system from the outside. The solar system, the gravity of the Sun, travels four times the distance from the Sun to Pluto. Further, "empty" space at a distance of several light years, to the nearest star.

      If, which can come from outside, then only alien ships.

      And all these Apophes, meteorites, comets, asteroids are all our internal remnants that were not included in the formation of the solar system in the structure of planets and satellites.
  8. Skavron
    Skavron 2 October 2012 11: 30
    I think that earthlings can destroy themselves without asteroids. Moreover, in a closer time frame.
  9. Region65
    Region65 2 October 2012 15: 18
    yes I don’t even worry :) Bruce Willis is still alive? alive) is the president niger in the US? niger :) then the valiant pin-ups, as expected, will save the world and shed the light of democracy on this asteroid bully
  10. Karlsonn
    Karlsonn 2 October 2012 15: 47
    ..According to him, an asteroid can collide with the Earth in the zone from the Urals, along the border of Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, through the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Central American territories, the waters of the Atlantic and to the African coast. ...
    and why I am not surprised that when listing possible places of the fall, Russia is mentioned first, and right in the middle, in the Urals. As I understand it, Shustov even calculated on what revolution the Earth will be, so that it flies to us.
  11. igordok
    igordok 2 October 2012 16: 16
    They’ll come up with another horror story (depletion of the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide) to knock money down.
  12. Psyjoker
    Psyjoker 2 October 2012 17: 37
    In the collision of apophis with the earth, ~ 1700 megatons will be allocated. After 200-300 km, even shocks will not be felt. Exaggerate.
  13. firever3000
    firever3000 2 October 2012 20: 20
    In everything you need to see the good - maybe this is not only a large stone, but also iron, gold, etc. it remains to come up with what to do with all this ?!
  14. Captain45
    Captain45 2 October 2012 23: 28
    Then at work they somehow got the reports, I sit and tell the boss: why the hell do we write this nonsense if everything is soon covered with a copper basin? That: in the sense of? I’m saying that you don’t watch Ren-TV, you don’t know that 21.12.12 will have all the core in 12.00, and then Apofis will finish the remaining ones? Can we not transfer the paper there yet, wait, see what happens, if, as 21.12.12 promise all the core, so what is the point of writing. Then it will still be, whether we wrote the reports or not, we don’t have anyone to read, but if it does, then we’ll write it, and now we’ll rest from the paper. I did not understand the wise leader of humor, he says how so do not write a report on the results., go get ready. I had to obey.
  15. Alien
    Alien 3 October 2012 11: 00
    Well, we are ready, the oars are dried wassat