NASA is developing the real “Armageddon” movie scenario, for the possibility of humans being extinct because of an asteroid colliding with the earth.
Images credit NASA/NSS
According to simulations on Los Alamos’ powerful Cielo supercomputer, a 1-megaton nuclear blast could deter a killer asteroid.
Los Alamos astrophysicist Robert Weaver is working on how to protect humanity from a killer asteroid by using a nuclear explosive.
Weaver is not worried about the intercept problem. He would count on the rocket power and operational control already developed by NASA to intercept a threatening object and deliver the nuclear device. NASA’s Dawn Mission has been able to place a spacecraft in orbit around Vesta, a huge almost-planet-size asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the NASA Deep Impact mission sent a probe into the nucleus of comet 9P/Tempel. In other words, we have the technology to rendezvous with a killer object and try to blow it up with a nuclear explosive. But will it work?
“A big plume coming out of the asteroid in the simulation is the effect of all that heated rock in the vicinity of the explosion being expelled from the asteroid at high velocities.
The shock wave from the explosion transfers kinetic energy to the individual rocks, and then as the rocks move, they hit other rocks, causing more rock-to-rock kinetic energy transfers. These rock-to-rock interactions propagate the energy from the surface all the way through to the opposite end of the asteroid, totally disrupting these rubble piles.”