Cocoon for Apophis

Cocoon for Apophis from NewMars forums

A discussion is underway on the web site, regarding a concept shown by nature, for capturing an asteroid. In nature, creatures (eg. caterpillars) wrap themselves in a cocoon (eg. silk thread) to prepare for metamorphosis. Asteroids such as Apophis are thought to be loose piles or collections of rubble held together by very small gravitational forces.

Such objects cannot be moved through application of a force, such as that produced by a chemical rocket. Wrapping such an object in a cocoon of basalt thread (as an example) would appear to offer a solution to the problem of giving the object a structure to facilitate movement to a harvesting location.

Here is a recent post by the forum administrator, inviting composition of an article about this topic, for possible display on the main page of the Mars Society web site. readers are invited to think about the problem, and offer their thoughts about how best to proceed:

tahanson43206 wrote:

For SpaceNut re #

First, thanks for the reminder of the many contributions of JoshNH4H during his tenure as a moderator and member of the forum.

And thanks for the interesting teaser of an opportunity for the Asteroid Cocoon contingent. 

From my perspective, some work is still needed to reduce uncertainty in numerous areas. 

I’m not sure how many bullet points I’m going to come up with, but I’ll start and see how far it goes …

1) Is the surface of Apophis suitable for manufacture into thread?

2) Can equipment fabricated for manufacture of basalt thread here on Earth be adapted to deep space and whatever material Apophis offers?

3) Is there an optimum strategy for wrapping the cocoon.  Calliban’s long arm from a pole is what Nature offers as a model, but that would be slowest.

4) Would SpaceNut’s idea of tossed toilet paper rolls (as a metaphor of course) work at all, and if so, how would it be designed for the free space situation?

5) What amount of wrapping material is needed?  Nature provides a model of multiple layers of thread. Can we get by with less?

6) Where would the world want the asteroid to be delivered?  I say the world, because there is ** no ** doubt the world has an interest in the project.

7) Speaking of the world … what international agreements are needed to avoid unhappy and worried people, let alone nations?

Enough for now …


Maybe its time for a consolidated write up for this topic to be posted on the home page..targetting the above bullets to finish out what we might be missing…