Advisory Board

Professor Massimiliano Vasile

The Telegraph article Mirror satellites ‘could divert asteroid’ said

The best way to divert an asteroid from a potentially catastrophic collision course with Earth is to deploy a “swarm” of mirror-bearing satellites to focus a beam of sunlight onto its surface, scientists say.
Researchers compared a series of methods for deflecting asteroids such as ramming them, targeting them with nuclear weapons and pulling them off course using the gravity of a nearby spacecraft.
They concluded the easiest and safest approach was “solar sublimation” — concentrating sunlight so that rock on the surface material turns to gas, creating a rocket-like thrust capable of nudging the asteroid onto a new orbit.
Dr Massimiliano Vasile, from the University of Glasgow, unveiled the results of his study at the Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester as part of today’s celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of human space flight.
Dr Vasile said: “Asteroid impacts are a real threat. The Tunguska explosion in 1908 devastated an area bigger than Greater London.
“As with other deviation techniques, the solar concentrator works best when the deviating action is applied well in advance before the impact.
“Our studies show this technology is genuinely feasible and, unlike methods where an explosion or impactor is used to divert the asteroid, there is no further risk from fragments.”

Massimiliano Vasile, Ph.D. is Professor in Space System Engineering at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Aerospace Centre of Excellence at the University of Strathclyde. Max lead the Stardust project and is currently leading the UTOPIAE project. His research areas include Space Mission Analysis and Design, Global Optimization Methods, Autonomous Systems, Robust Design Optimization, and Biologically Inspired Computing.
Mx authored A Global Approach to Optimal Space Trajectory Design, and coauthored Design of Earth—Mars transfer trajectories using evolutionary-branching technique, On the Preliminary Design of Multiple Gravity-Assist Trajectories, Preliminary Design of Low-Thrust Multiple Gravity-Assist Trajectories, Options for a Mission to Pluto and Beyond, Space and Ground Based Large Scale Solar Power Plants: A European Perspective, and Concepts for Near-Earth Asteroid Deflection Using Spacecraft with Advanced Nuclear and Solar Electric Propulsion Systems.
Mx earned his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Aerospace Engineering of Politecnico di Milano, Italy, in 1996 and 2000.
Read Mirrored Army to Protect Earth. Read his LinkedIn profile.