NASA Illustration: Collecting a sample from Bennu

Recent headlines have contained lots of asteroid-nuking talk. There’s a team of Russian scientists zapping mini asteroids in their lab, and supposedly NASA is thinking about a plan that would hypothetically involve nuking Bennushould it threaten Earth in 2135.

It’s true that NASA is drafting up ideas on how one might nuke an incoming asteroid, a theoretical plan called HAMMER, or the Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response, as we’ve reported. But scientists probably won’t need to use such a response on the “Empire State Building-sized” asteroid 101955 Bennu, which is set to pass close to Earth in 2135. Diverting such a threat could be much, much easier.

“Even just painting the surface a different color on one half would change the thermal properties and change its orbit,” Michael Moreau, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Flight Dynamics System Manager, told Gizmodo. That would involve literally sending a spacecraft to somehow change the color of some of the asteroid.