Polyester film extruders -- prepare to save the planet. An Australian PhD student has won top prize in a global competition for a proposal to save the earth from a possible collision with an asteroid dubbed Apophis by wrapping the intruder with plastic film. The theory is that if we could wrap enough reflective film on the surface of the asteroid, the film would act as a solar sail. "Such a coating may increase the asteroid's reflectivity, enabling deflection by solar radiation pressure." The prize winner is Mary D'Souza, a student at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Queensland in Australia (two blog posts in a row from U of Q? Just a coincidence). Her paper is titled "A Body Solar Sail Concept for the Deflection of 99942 Apophis.” The project is getting some media attention today, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it featured in your local newspaper or TV report sometime soon. But isn't this all a bit far-fetched? Maybe so. (How would we get enough film into space? How could we wrap the asteroid?) But maybe it's just crazy enough to work. It's not as photogenic as blowing up the asteroid in the nick of time, but it is brilliant nevertheless.
Deflecting an asteroid with PET film
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