The Yarkovsky Effect
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
The differential heating of the sides of an asteroid by sunlight can lead to the exertion of a small thrust force, a phenomenon known as the Yarkovsky effect. In September 2016, NASA launched a spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, to intercept and collect samples from the asteroid Bennu. It successfully landed on the asteroid in October 2020. In addition to collecting a sample of the asteroid and returning it to Earth, OSIRIS-REx will investigate the Yarkovsky effect on Bennu in order to develop potential techniques to deflect asteroids that are on a collision course with the Earth.