NASA to Protect Earth from Asteroid using Nuclear Weapon

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) projected the collision of asteroid impacting Earth, which can be destroyed with nuclear weapon developed by scientists

NASA, aeronautics and aerospace research organization collaborated with National Nuclear Security Administration and weapons labs from the Energy Department to develop designs for a spacecraft, which can potentially protect the planet from damage caused by asteroid. The 8.8-ton craft named Dubbed Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER), would be able to alter the orbit of an incoming asteroid, either by crashing into a small one or detonating a nuclear device on a large one. “If the asteroid is small enough, and we detect it early enough, we can do it with the impactor,” said David Dearborn, physicist involved in study. “The impactor is not as flexible as the nuclear option when we really want to change the speed of the body in a hurry.”

For case study, scientists are using an asteroid named Bennu. It is about one-third of a mile wide and weighs 174 billion pounds. The study reports that, there is a 1 in 2,700 chance it will strike the Earth in 2135 — on September 21, to be precise. If it struck the Earth, it would trigger a 1.13-gigaton blast, more than 20 times larger than the biggest hydrogen bomb ever tested. It was chosen for the impact scenario, as it is part of the OSIRIS-Rex mission. Launched in 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently under development. In 2018, it will scoop up a sample from the surface of Bennu in a ‘touch-and-go’ maneuver before it returns to Earth.

However, scientists believe that it is difficult to map the exact trajectory of this asteroid, as they are subject to various gravitational forces and buffeted by solar winds. The organization is working on strapping nuclear weapons to giant rockets and launching them on a collision course to precisely identify possible threats. Detection of potentially dangerous NEOs needs to remain one of NASA’s priorities, said Bizel. “Time is the most important factor,” he added. “If you have more time, this problem gets much easier.”

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