Asteroid whisperer | MIT Technology Review

“We’ve been monitoring DDMOS for five years to understand the state of the system before changing it forever, so we can say. [the difference between] What we did with DART was naturally going to happen, “Rivkin says.” Once we get the results and interpret them, we can apply them as needed. Or, hopefully, not needed. “

While he is not working on a possible life-saving mission to Earth, Rivkin studies how that life may have come to be in the first place.

“There’s been a lot of talk that the water and organic matter we have on Earth was brought in by the effects of asteroids and comets,” he says. “So the study of where water is in asteroids has a lot of influence on it.”

Rivkin uses astronomical spectroscopy and spectrophotometry to determine the composition of asteroids in our solar system. This means that it measures the spectra of electromagnetic radiation emitted from asteroids and comets and determines where such material may be present.

This spatial dosing can also help extend human life further into the cosmos. To that end, Rivkin has worked with the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, which asks the question: Can we use asteroid water as a rocket propellant on deep space missions? If so, which asteroids are good peat-stop candidates?

But with great knowledge comes great responsibility, and Rivkin seems responsible for addressing the host of moral considerations that come with space travel.

“What does it mean if we are going to expand our economy into space? What is its ethics? How can we bring the best of humanity and not the worst of us? “He asks.

Thinking about the evolution and future of human life in the universe can be overwhelming, so Rivkin turns to music when he needs a break. Playing drums in grade school led him to form a band with some friends during his time at MIT. Thirty years later, he still enjoys writing and playing music under the name “Andy Rivkin and his Gadenkenband” and his songs are now available on popular streaming platforms.

“It’s a good mental-health break just to take the guitar,” he says. “Whenever I give advice to someone who is going to college, I always say keep pursuing your hobby. Maybe in the junior year, you’re like, ‘I don’t have time for this.’ But if you do, you will be happier for 10 or 15 to 20 years. ”

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