While NASA warns of another five space rocks headed towards the Earth, one Finnish astrophysicist is proposing human colonization of the asteroid belt itself within the next 15 years.
As the Earth lurches out of month one of 2021, NASA has issued a brief, advising that five more asteroids that are potentially between 25 and 100 meters (82 and 98 feet) in diameter are due for close flybys before the month is up.
On Tuesday, the 25-meter asteroid 2021 BD3, with a diameter roughly half that of the Arc de Triomphe’s height, will pass the planet at a safe distance of 3.9 million km (3.9 million miles). A short time later, an object dubbed 2021 AL, which measures 40m in diameter or roughly five London buses end-to-end, will whizz past at a distance of 4.1 million km.
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Next up, on Thursday January 28, will be the 40-meter space rock 2021 BZ, which will shoot past at 2.1 million km.
To round up a rocky start to the year, on January 29, asteroids 2021 AG7, which could be up to 100m in diameter or the same size as London’s Big Ben, and the 30-meter 2021 AF7 will pass the Earth at 4.2 million km and 6.8 million km, respectively.
Meanwhile, one forward-thinking astrophysicist proposes that, rather than asteroids coming to us, humans should instead colonize the asteroid belt, in as little as 15 years.
Dr. Pekka Janhunen, an astrophysicist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki, has proposed the construction of habitable floating “mega-satellites” orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres, some 523 million kilometers from Earth, among the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
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Like something plucked straight from modern science fiction series, these disk-shaped settlements, linked by powerful magnets, would boast thousands of cylindrical structures which could house a total of 50,000 people who would all benefit from artificial gravity generated via floating cities’ slow rotation.
Janhunen also proposes space mining from Ceres as a means by which to set up an economy and make colonization profitable and sustainable, making use of space elevators to carry resources back to the pods and potentially back to Earth for processing.
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