Cosmic Paintball

Who would have thought our salvation may be in the hands of a paintball gun. I’m not referring to the “afterlife”, rather an interesting theory to protect earth from the thousands of asteroids willing to put an end to life as we know it. Hollywood had me sold on the notion that nothing less than a self sacrificing suicide mission, aimed at the heart of any space menace would protect humanity. The funny thing is, I don’t think a Hollywood writer could have come up with cosmic paintball.

Sung Wook Paek is a recent graduate of MIT’s Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was awarded the 2012 Move an Asteroid Technical Paper Competition by the United Nations Space Generation Advisory Council.

In a nutshell Paek’s theory is pellets of paint powder fired at an asteroid from close range, in two rounds – one to cover the front, the other the back of the asteroid, would initially bump it off course a little due to the force of impact. After that the paint would double the reflectivity of the sun’s protons and nature would take its course, steering the asteroid away from a doomsday collision with our planet.

A few problems with Paek’s theory – he predicts it would take tons of paint and at least 20 years for the asteroid to safely pass us by. That said, I like the idea of cosmic paintball a lot more than nuclear fire crackers complete with their unpredictable behaviour.

.55 caliber paintball