On this mission the Enterprise will approach a large asteroid. After the asteroid is thoroughly probed with sensors and a robotic lander lands on it to examine it further, the Enterprise will divert the asteroid from its path. This is meant to gain experience with diverting asteroids in case one ever is on a path to strike earth. The Enterprise might use three different methods to divert the asteroid so that a repertoire of viable methods can be developed to divert an asteroid if a real need ever arises.
Three potential techniques to divert the asteroid are: (1) imparting energy to the asteroid with the Enterprise’s 100MW laser, (2) attaching a nuclear-powered ion propulsion engine to the asteroid, and (3) using a nuclear explosion. A fourth option could even be that the Enterprise itself is tethered to the asteroid to work as a tug to divert it.
Before diverting the asteroid, a haul of mined materials will be taken from it as part of the Enterprise’s on-going experimental mining done during some Enterprise missions away from earth.
This mission to divert an asteroid will lay the foundation for any future Enterprise mission where a real threat to earth from an asteroid occurs. In fact, once the Enterprise is deployed it will have a permanent standby mission to divert an errant asteroid if one is detected heading toward earth. The Enterprise will be fully equipped at all times so that it can respond on short notice to go after a threatening asteroid and divert it. The Enterprise itself will also use its on-board computers and sensors to track every asteroid within the range of its sensors.