Science

How To Deal With Killer Asteroids? Nuke Them, NASA Suggests

By Christie Abagon , Dec 14, 2016 12:32 AM EST
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What if a giant asteroid makes its way towards Earth? Are humans prepared for a catastrophic event like this? NASA does not think so, and if a killer space rock threatens to hit our planet, we may just have to nuke it.

The Earth Is Overdue For An 'Extinction-Level' Cosmic Event

During an annual meeting of American Geophysical Union, Dr Joseph Nuth, a researcher with Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, said that humans are not ready for an asteroid or comet attack.  "The biggest problem, basically, is there's not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment," Nuth said.

According to Nuth, the Earth is overdue for an "extinction-level" cosmic event.  Just a few months ago, scientists spotted an asteroid which narrowly missed hitting Earth by just a few hours.  Experts concluded that if there are any last-minute asteroid deflections needed, nuke is the only option. 

Kinetic Impactor Is Pacifistic Compared To Nuclear

Catharine Plesko, a researcher at Los Alamos who uses supercomputers to model asteroid deflection scenarios, said that kinetic impactors are a more pacifistic idea for asteroid deflection, but if the target is very large, nuclear would be a better option because it encompasses the largest amount of energy.

"A kinetic impactor is basically a giant cannonball," Plesko said. "Cannonball technology is very good, because you're intercepting the object at a very high speed. But if you really need a lot of energy, a nuclear burst is the way to go."

Right now, there are currently no looming threats that NASA detected and the idea of deflecting asteroids exists in supercomputers only, but astronomers say it's better to be safe than sorry.  Galen Gisler of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said: "Natural disasters happen all the time.  This is one natural disaster we can see coming and prevent."

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