Asteroid Institute gears up to protect Earth

Gravity tractor
How do you divert a potentially threatening asteroid? One of the suggested scenarios is to station a “gravity tractor” near the asteroid so that the gravitational interaction gradually shifts the threatening object to a non-threatening trajectory. (FIAAA / B612 Foundation Illustration / Dan Durda)

The B612 Foundation is setting up an Asteroid Institute to study techniques for detecting and diverting near-Earth objects that may threaten our planet – and giving the University of Washington a leading role.

The B612 Asteroid Institute’s first two postdoctoral research fellows will be posted to UW’s DIRAC Institute, where they’ll help develop analytical tools to track asteroids and assess how much of an impact risk they pose.

That task meshes with the 15-year-old B612 Foundation’s mission of calling attention to the asteroid threat and the technologies that will be needed to spare us from the fate that the dinosaurs faced 65 million years ago.

“In a sense, the Asteroid Institute reflects what we’ve always been doing,” B612 President Danica Remy told GeekWire during a visit to Seattle.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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