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Tag an asteroid and win $50k

The BBC has a great story covering news that the Planetary Society is offering a $50,000 prize for the most innovative way of tagging or tracking an asteroid that will pass close to Earth. The problem is an interesting one:

Apophis is an approximately 400 meter near-Earth object (NEO), which will come closer to Earth in 2029 than the orbit of our geostationary satellites. On that pass, the asteroid will be gravitationally perturbed to an unknown orbit, one that could cause it to hit Earth in 2036.

Thus the Society wants to find a neat way of tracking Apophis if it changes its course following its first fly-by of Earth. According to the Society:

Such precise tracking may require “tagging” the asteroid, perhaps with a beacon — a transponder or reflector — or some other method. Exactly how an asteroid could best be tagged is not yet known, nor is it obvious.

Here is the original press release from the Planetary Society.

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