The idea of guns that can operate in space may sound like a ludicrous sci-fi fantasy, but once NASA gets involved, it all becomes legitimate experimental research. It has been revealed that the space agency is working with Brooklyn’s Honeybee Robotics to develop a shotgun that will work in orbit, and be able to fire at asteroids. Now, before the excitement starts ramping up, the gun won’t be for destroying the space rocks, or even hitting them hard enough to alter their trajectory.
Honeybee Robotics explains that the idea behind the gun is fire at and study how strong the asteroids are. Through this, they can determine if an asteroid’s mass is sturdy enough to land a probe on for collecting samples. The small balls that hit the rock help scientists better understand the strength of the surface.
If the projectiles fired at the asteroid break the surface, scientists can easily know the it’s not strong enough to land a probe on. But if the balls bound off, the velocity can be measured to determine the overall strength of the rock.
The gun will help reduce the risks that come with trying to collect asteroid samples, which NASA itself has said is a “key step” to eventually exploring Mars. The whole thing is still a concept at this point, but the hope is that it could one day be used on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission.
SOURCE New York Post