THE SOLAR COLLECTOR AND NEAR EARTH OBJECT DIVERSION pp.221-228
Authors: (Dr. Gregory L. Matloff, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, New York City College of Technology, CUNY, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA, GMatloff@citytech.cuny.edu)
Abstract: Solar Collectors (SCs) have a potential near-term extraterrestrial application of great significance. It has been theoretically demonstrated that use of a properly configured two-sail solar sail has the potential to concentrate sunlight on an Earth-threatening Near Earth Object (NEO). If this asteroid or extinct comet has layers of dust or ice, a jet can be raised by the concentrated sunbeam. If heated to high temperatures, the exhaust velocity of the jet can approximate one kilometer per second. If a modest sized 50–100 m SC can be maintained in position near a rotating NEO for a period of months or years, the reaction to this jet (by Newton’s Third Law) can significantly alter the trajectory of a mid-size (300–700 m) Earth threatening NEO, hopefully converting a direct hit into a near miss. There are other means of NEO diversion that will become available as the space-faring nations develop their expanded interplanetary capabilities by around 2020. But only the SC has the potential of application not only as an NEO deflector, but as a method of steering small NEOs into high-Earth orbit, where their resources can be utilized for terrestrial or extraterrestrial purposes.