Your Odds of Successfully Navigating an Asteroid Belt

Most of us have seen Star Wars, where Han Solo flies into an asteroid belt and the tie fighters that follow him get smashed up because it is so hard to fly in an asteroid belt. He is warned by C3PO, his robot companion just how low the odds are of safely navigating it.

To see if that is true, let’s look at the asteroid belt in our own solar system! To get past Mars, NASA missions must navigate this asteroid belt. And even though real-life spacecraft are much too delicate to get hit by an asteroid, they’ve never had a problem whatsoever. This is because in our asteroid belt, the asteroids are usually still hundreds of thousands of miles apart. There are more “rocks” floating around than in other parts of our solar system, but NASA can easily navigate through them. Sorry, C3PO, the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field is much higher than 3,720 to 1!

Han Solo navigating through an asteroid field in Empire Strike Back (Image: © Lucasfilm)