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Space Roundup

February 18, 2011

Solar technology could come in handy if a dangerous meteor is ever headed for earth.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Driving away meteors. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Meteors, some as big as cities, zip through space at 50,000 km per hour. What do we do if we discover one heading toward earth? At a meeting of the International Meteoritical Society, New York City College of Technology physicist Gregory Matloff described his research into steering the meteors away by heating up a small point on their surface using solar panels. The heating would create a jet stream of hot material shooting away from the meteor, gradually steering it in a new direction.

In other news, the discovery of six planets orbiting around a sun-like star—including five planets ranging from about 2 to 14 times the size of earth—is just the latest highlight of the Kepler space telescope. The spacecraft detects planets based on dips in a star’s brightness as the planets pass in front of it. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.