Let's just say we won't be needing to call this team when an asteroid is nearing us. A swarm of tiny spacecraft might just do the job.
That's the finding of Alison Gibbings and Massimiliano Vasile, a pair of aerospace engineers at the UK's University of Strathclyde. Their idea is to send a swarm of spacecraft all roughly the size of a pebble at an oncoming asteroid.
New Scientists says that 500 kilograms worth of the spacecraft could push a 250 meter wide asteroid at least 35,000 kilometers off its course. And that would be more than enough to make it not collide with Earth.
The swarm of spacecraft could be ferried from Earth to the asteroid in one big rocket. Once there, the swarm could form a sort of cloud-like shape around the asteroid, running off solar power and slowly guiding the asteroid off course.
It's much better than trying to land on the asteroid and drilling a hole in it to plant a nuclear bomb. Anyone would agree.