Nuclear bombs could be key to saving Earth from asteroids, scientists claim

Scientists have backed the idea to use nuclear bombs to protect Earth from asteroids.

Asteroid disruption has been a worrisome topic for scientists for some time, as they try to plan for what would happen if another asteroid collision were to take place.

Their concerns aren’t baseless – after all, we don’t want to be wiped out like the dinosaurs were.

So to save our skins, experts have been looking into ways to deflect any meteors rocketing our way. However, for this, there needs to be a certain warning period during which measures can be implemented to nudge the asteroid.

New research claims that if the warning time is not sufficient to undertake nudging measures, then asteroid disruption can be carried out with the help of a lot of energy which would lead to the asteroid turning into well-dispersed fragments, The Financial Express reported.

A large asteroid approaching Earth

The research, published in Acta Astronautica journal, has Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) former scholar Patrick King as lead author. The paper looked at using nuclear energy to disrupt the asteroid when the warning time is not sufficient to stage a deflection.

It also explored the different ways in which different asteroid orbits and different fragment velocity distributions would work together to impact the fragments.

However, this is not as easy as it seems.

Fragments of an asteroid following impact
Fragments of an asteroid following impact

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King said that a major challenge in assessing disruption as a strategy is needing to model all of the fragment orbits, which is much more complicated as compared to the modelling of a simple deflection.

But he added that these challenges do need to be tackled or there at least needs to be an attempt to tackle them in order to assess disruption as a possible strategy.

King stated that his study looked at nuclear disruptions as a last resort and that scientists would prefer to stage deflections if time permits.


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