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News of the Weird: Stopping an Asteroid With Paintballs
If an asteroid is ever on a collision course with Earth, it is feasible that the planet could be saved by firing paintballs at it, according to an MIT graduate student whose detailed plan won this year's prize in a United Nations space council competition, announced in October. White paint powder, landing strategically on the asteroid, would initially bump it a bit, but in addition would facilitate the sun's photons bouncing off the solid white surface. Over a period of years, the bounce energy would divert the body even farther off course. The already identified asteroid Apophis, which measures 1,500 feet in diameter and is projected to approach Earth in 2029, would require five tons of paintball ammo.
By Chuck Shepherd
December 3, 2012