Best Defense Against Asteroids? Try Paintballs MIT grad student wins award with novel idea By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Oct 30, 2012 2:38 PM CDT Updated Nov 3, 2012 12:33 PM CDT 30 comments Comments This radar image provided by NASA shows a large asteroid named 2005 YU55 that harmlessly passed by Earth in November 2011. (AP Photo/NASA) (Newser) – If an asteroid were speeding toward a calamitous collision with Earth, we might be able to knock it off track by ... painting it white. The PopSci blog picks up on the novel idea by MIT grad student Sung Wook Paek: Let's say scientists determined that an asteroid were going to smash into us in 20 years. We send up a spacecraft and hit it with five tons of white paint pellets. That alone would knock it a bit off course, but the paint also would increase the rock's sunlight reflectivity, which would cause more photons to bounce off its surface, and, in theory, steer it out of harm's way. The paper just won a UN competition on the subject for students and young scientists.