Let’s be honest: The asteroid belt is a bit of a mess. It is filled with large rocks that bounce around at high speed, sometimes being hurled towards different planets and generally causing chaos. In this episode of Dead Planets Society, our hosts Chelsea White and Leah Crane have decided to embark on a solar system cleanup mission: to merge the asteroid belt into one rocky world.
But it’s not as simple as just shaking the asteroid belt and expecting everything to be destroyed at once. For asteroids to stick together to create even more asteroids, they would have to collide relatively slowly. A giant funnel may serve to ensure that they are all crushed together. Or maybe an injection of airgel into the entire asteroid belt could slow them down and eventually bring them to a gentle stop – although the rings themselves could make the outer solar system difficult to detect, and that could have implications for Earth’s wildlife. There may be some bad effects, too.
Leah and Chelsea are joined in this episode by planetary astronomers Andy Rivkin of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and Kat Volk of the University of Arizona.
Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes weird ideas about how to tinker with the universe – from extinguishing the sun to causing a gravitational wave apocalypse – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they Let’s move ahead.
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