Asteroids that threaten Earth could be deflected from their orbits using directed energy to vaporize the surface, as the ejected plume creates a reaction thrust that alters the asteroid’s trajectory. In this situation, a critical issue is the rotation of the asteroid relative to the directed energy beam, as this will reduce the average thrust magnitude and modify the thrust direction. Flux levels required to evaporate surface material depend on the surface material composition, rotation rate, albedo, and thermal and bulk mechanical properties of the asteroid. The observed distribution of asteroid rotation rates is used, along with an estimated range of material and mechanical properties, as input to a 4D thermalphysical model to calculate the resultant thrust vector. The model uses a directed energy beam, striking the surface of a rotating sphere with specified material properties, beam profile, and rotation rate. The model calculates thermal changes in the sphere, including vaporization and mass ejection of the target material. The amount of vaporization integrated over the target is used to determine the thrust magnitude and the phase shift relative to the non-rotating case. As the object rotates beneath the beam, the energy spreads out, decreasing temperature and vaporization causing both a phase shift and magnitude decrease in the average thrust vector. This produces a 4D analytical model of the expected thrust profile for rotating objects.


Statistics and Probability

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