Gravity Tractor Could Deflect Asteroids Sent From The Bug Homeworld

By Jonathan Kimak

A new study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reports that asteroids headed for earth could be deflected by the weak gravitational pull caused by the engines of a nearby spacecraft. The hypothetical spacecraft, known as a gravity tractor, would be able to deflect asteroids as large as 140 metres in length. The tractor would position itself along an asteroids path at an optimal location to deflect the asteroid away from earth’s atmosphere.

The study reaffirms previous research into the field of gravity tractors and adds an engineering framework that brings the tractor from being theoretical into something that really could be created.

It should only be a matter of time before we go from gravity tractors to tractor beams.

[ NASA’s preliminary report(pdf) ] VIA [ New Scientist ]