The Unexpected Way We Might Prevent An Asteroid From Hitting Earth
By SANJIV SATHIAH
Tech - News
One of the favorite themes of disaster movies is imagining the result of an asteroid or a comet on a course for Earth and potentially wiping out life as is believed to have happened to the dinosaurs. While the chances of something similar happening to Earth again are relatively low, NASA scientists, among others, are reassuringly keeping an eye on things for us regardless.
According to planetary scientist Detlef Koschny, 90% of asteroids that are 1 kilometer in size or larger have been mapped, and scientists are confident that none of them poses a threat to Earth anytime in the next 100 years. However, should an asteroid smaller than 1 kilometer threaten Earth, NASA is partnering with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
Their joint project, called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will embark on a mission in September 2022 and attempt to redirect an asteroid. It aims to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid 530 feet in diameter — the force of impact will be the equivalent of three tons of TNT, which will, in theory, knock the asteroid out of its current trajectory.
If DART were to fail, or an impending collision were only detected within one year from a potential impact, more drastic measures would need to be taken, such as a targeted nuclear strike on the asteroid. Simulation tests, developed by scientists, revealed that a 1-megaton nuclear warhead would stop at least 99% of the impacting mass of an asteroid up to 330 feet wide.