There are probably fewer stars in the Universe than scientists who believe that humanity could go extinct after the “unexpected visit” of a huge asteroid. Jokes aside, but that’s how dinosaurs went extinct roughly 60 million years ago, and there are countless space rocks in the Universe.
While NASA considers the option to try deflecting an asteroid to see if human extinction can be prevented in this way, other scientists have a more “old school” idea. Why not try shooting nukes at it instead? That’s what scientists of a new study published in Acta Astronautica have in mind.
Small body disruption is the answer
Small body disruption means blowing up asteroids when they’re on a collision course with our planet. Calculations even suggest that such an idea is very effective when it comes to protection against impacts that are supposed to occur in less than a year away.
Patrick King, a physicist from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, declared:
One of the challenges in assessing disruption is that you need to model all of the fragment orbits, which is generally far more complicated than modeling a simple deflection,
Nevertheless, we need to try to tackle these challenges if we want to assess disruption as a possible strategy.
Either way, we can’t count on the scenario from the 1998 movie “Armageddon”, when oil drillers were sent to a “global killer” asteroid to plant a nuclear bomb within it. That was only science-fiction, but the chances are big that the plot granted some inspiration to scientists.
Luckily for each of us, there’s no data about an upcoming asteroid that’s on a collision course with us and capable of destroying mankind. If that happens, it will probably only occur in the far future, meaning that our descendants have plenty of time to look for solutions.