The report, released by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Department of Energy (DOE), is called “Nuclear Weapon Effects Assessment”. It details how a nuclear weapon could be used to destroy an asteroid in order to prevent it from hitting Earth.
The which asteroid will destroy earth is a question that has been asked many times. A report released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) states that an asteroid similar to Armageddon could be very effective in destroying Earth.
Armageddon, Michael Bay’s catastrophe film from 1998, requires no introduction at this time. The movie is a cult classic with a rocking soundtrack (led by Aerosmith’s classic “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”), a crazy ensemble cast of stars (including Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thorton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, Jason Isaacs, William Fichter, and the late Michael Clarke Duncan), and a crazy premise (a massive ‘planet-killer’ asteroid). Nearly a quarter-century after the premiere of Armageddon, science is supporting the film’s plan for avoiding… human annihilation!
According to a recent study published by Science Alert, Earth’s “late-time small-body disruption” defense system is a feasible method for fending off oncoming asteroids. When “relatively small” asteroids are detected less than a year from colliding with Earth, late-time small-body disruption is designed to use nuclear arms to blow them up; according to the latest reported calculations of such a scenario, late-time small-body disruption would be a “very effective” (if not complicated) means of protecting the planet.
According to John Hopkins University Maryland physicist Patrick King: “One of the difficulties in determining disruption is that you must model all of the fragment orbits, which is much more difficult than modeling a simple deflection. Nonetheless, if we wish to consider disruption as a strategy, we must attempt to address these issues.”
As King points out, this approach is a little more complex than it seems at first. After blowing up an asteroid, there’s still the issue of what to do with all the debris that results from the explosion. There’s also the (literally) larger issue of what to do if an asteroid the size of the boulder in the Armageddon movie comes crashing down on our planet. A well-placed nuclear explosion could reportedly decrease the impact mass of a planet-killer asteroid to only 1% – provided the rock is struck six months before it reaches us, according to the research.
Despite this, late-time small-body disruption is still being considered as a last option by scientists. Deflection is still the favored technique for delivering nukes in space:
“We focused on ‘late’ disruptions, which means the hitting body gets torn up just before it hits,” King explains. “Kinetic impactors are usually chosen to deflect the hitting body when you have lots of time – typically decade-long durations.”
To that end, NASA and other planetary defense organizations are still concentrating on what they consider to be the more critical initial step: early detection, as well as better techniques for forecasting and modeling the impact consequences and debris trajectory:
“Our group continues to refine our modeling approaches for nuclear deflection and disruption,” said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist Megan Bruck Syal. “This includes ongoing improvements to X-ray energy deposition modeling, which sets the initial blowoff and shock conditions for a nuclear disruption problem.”
Acta Astronautica has the whole research on late-time small-body disruption.
A report from the god of chaos asteroid, which is named god of chaos, has been released. The report says that a nuking of this asteroid would be very effective. Reference: god of chaos’ asteroid nasa.
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