A gravity tractor is a hypothetical spacecraft that could deflect another object in space without physically contacting it, such as an asteroid that could collide with Earth. The relatively small amounts of force used allow extremely precise manipulation and determination of the asteroid’s orbit around the sun.
The asteroid would be accelerated almost uniformly as a whole, with only tidal forces causing stresses to its internal structure, thanks to the spacecraft’s own mass and associated gravitational field.
The exhaust configuration is one of the tractor concept’s limitations: for maximum force per unit of fuel, the most efficient hovering design directs its exhaust directly at the target object, which necessitates greater thrust and, as a result, increased fuel consumption for each metre per second change in the target’s velocity.
The average tractor force on the asteroid for 10 years (which is 3.156u00d7108 seconds) would need to be about 0.032 newtons. An ion-electric spacecraft with a specific impulse of 10,000 N-s per kg, corresponding to an ion beam velocity of 100 kilometers per second, would require 1,000 kg of reaction mass.
What does a gravity tractor do?
A gravity tractor is a hypothetical spacecraft that would use its gravitational field to deflect another object in space, typically a potentially hazardous asteroid that could impact Earth, without physically contacting it.
Does a gravity tractor exist?
Gravity tractors are most likely to work on any shape or composition of approaching asteroid, even if it’s just a pile of rubble; however, gravity tractors may be ineffective for the largest asteroids, which could pose the greatest threat to Earth.
How much would a gravity tractor cost?
After the tractoring phase, precise tracking is required to ensure that the asteroid has been deflected as intended. The GTDM design includes both spacecraft and Earth-based observations of FJ10 to verify the deflection. GTDM is expected to cost $280 million.
Why is it called a tractor beam?
A tractor beam is a device that has the ability to attract one object to another from a distance; the term was coined by E. E. Smith in his novel Spacehounds of IPC (1931) (an update of his earlier “attractor beam”).
How can we prevent meteor impact?
If the object is very large but still a loosely-held-together rubble pile, detonating one or more nuclear explosive devices alongside the asteroid at a 20-meter (66-foot) or greater stand-off height above its surface, so as not to fracture the potentially loosely-held-together object, is a viable option.
What are gravitational tugs?
1 the gravitational force that bodies exert on one another due to their mass.
What is a kinetic impactor?
Sending one or more large, high-speed spacecraft into the path of an approaching near-earth object, known as kinetic impaction, could deflect the asteroid and steer it away from the Earth’s orbital path.
Can you use a tractor beam at warp?
To safely tow a vessel at warp speed, the target vessel’s engines must be deactivated to avoid shearing forces against the towing vessel. Using a tractor beam at warp speed can only be done if both vessels’ speeds are exactly matched.
Is tractor beams possible?
According to scientists, a laser can act as a “tractor beam,” drawing small objects back toward the laser’s source. If a Bessel beam meets an object at a glancing angle rather than directly, the backward force can be stimulated.
How does tractor beam work?
Sonic tractor beams, also known as acoustic holograms, use loudspeakers to create high-pressure sound shapes that can hold, rotate, and move objects in midair. However, researchers have struggled for years to levitate objects larger than half the wavelength of the sound.