NASA scientists working on plan to divert or blow up asteroids on collision course with earth
19 March 2018
NASA scientists are working on a plan to divert or blow up an asteroid if it were on a collision course with the earth.
According to experts, the chances of such an event are remote but the NASA team is already planning a course of action in case of any risk from an asteroid.
The details of NASA’s project Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) spacecraft, which would be capable of deflecting high risk asteroids have been published in the journal Acta Astronautica.
Astronomers have been tracking asteroid Bennu circling the sun at 63,000 mph since 1999 when the giant asteroid was first spotted. NASA's Osiris-Rex mission is on its way to Bennu to take samples.
Bennu's impact would release "three times more energy than all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history", Perfscience quoted Dante Lauretta, professor at the University of Arizona.
The research paper also provides details about payload and time lead time to divert or destroy 1,600-foot wide asteroid.
According to the research paper, preparation in advance would be required for project Hammer and it would need 7.4 years from the development phase to reaching the asteroid. Most of the asteroids hitting our planet are quite small and among the larger asteroids, NASA's Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies has identified 73 which have a one in 1,600 chance of hitting our planet.
Bennu is expected to come very close to earth in September 2135 and NASA scientists predict that there might be a chance of collision of the asteroid with earth. NASA scientists are thinking of two ways in which they can obstruct Bennu from coming very close to earth. If the asteroid is fond to be small enough, then the HAMMER spacecraft will smash the asteroid with an 8.8-ton “impactor” but if it turns out to be massive, then the HAMMER will destroy it with nuclear bombs before it reaches earth.