” We show that humanity has actually crossed a technological limit to avoid us from going the way of the dinosaurs,” composed Philip Lubin and Alex Cohen, scientists at the University of California Santa Barbara, in their paper published today on Arxiv. “We reveal that mitigation is conceivable using existing technology, even with the short time scale of 6 months warning.”
As a cautionary note, they added that the dinosaurs “never took a physics class and failed to fund planetary defense.”
Artists impression of an asteroid influence on early Earth (credit: NASA).
Similar to posts weve published formerly on Universe Today, this brand-new paper takes a look at several various manner ins which have been devised to divert an asteroid, however they focus generally on various explosive penetrators for the “Pulverize It” (PI) approach.
The duo concludes that the most effective method of crushing is using little nuclear explosive gadgets (NED) in the penetrators. This, integrated with soon-to-be-realized heavy lift launch assets such as NASAs Space Launch System (SLS) or SpaceXs Starship (with in-orbit refueling) suffices to mitigate this existential hazard.
This method would not totally wipe out an asteroid– which is essentially impossible for an asteroid that size. However it would vaporize part of the asteroids surface, creating an explosive thrust and a change in velocity in response. This would alter the asteroids course, hopefully diverting it from striking our planet.
That we have the technology offered today is really not a controversial viewpoint. We have discussed the topic with Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart– who helped found the asteroid research company B612. Schweickart has emphasized that the technology needed to divert an asteroid exists today.
” That is, we do not have to go into a huge technology development program in order to deflect most asteroids that would present a threat of effect,” he said, however included that the technology had not been created in a system style, or checked and demonstrated that it could actually deflect an asteroid.
Late last year, NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the very first ever planetary defense test mission. It will demonstrate that a spacecraft can autonomously browse to and carry out a kinetic impact on a relatively little target asteroid.
Artists impression of NASAs Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft speeding toward the smaller of the two bodies in the Didymos asteroid system. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
While a “planet killer” occasion is quite rare, of order once per 100 million years, it is likely a matter of when, not if.
The paper by Lubin and Cohen notes that a threat of this magnitude striking the Earth at a closing speed of 40 km/s would have an effect energy of approximately 300 Teratons TNT, or about 40 thousand times larger than the current combined nuclear arsenal of the entire world.
” This is comparable in energy to the KT termination occasion that eliminated the dinosaurs some 66 million years back. Such an occasion, if not mitigated, would be an existential risk to humanity,” they stated. “We show that mitigation is imaginable using existing innovation, even with the short time scale of 6 months alerting, but that the efficient coupling of the NED energy is critical.
In an idea experiment, they also looked at what would be needed to divert an asteroid the size of Texas, roughly 830 km diameter. This is about the size of the dwarf planet Ceres.
” What do you do now?” they asked. “You are going to need some pass away hard to get you out of this one. A number of options: a) party, b) move to Mars or the Moon to party, c) do what they performed in Chicken Run throughout take-off.”.
Kidding aside, they stated the function of their paper was to show that even in reasonably extreme short-term warning cases we d have the ability to respond, but only if we prepare– which Schweickart and B612 have consistently and vociferously advocated.
” Though the numbers may appear daunting, it is not outside the realm of possibility even at this moment in human technological advancement,” Lubin and Cohen stated. “This provides us hope that a robust planetary defense system is possible for even brief notice existential hazards such as we have actually detailed. Preferably, we would never ever be in this scenario, however better prepared than dead.”.
Lead image caption: DONT LOOK UP (L to R) LEONARDO DICAPRIO as DR. RANDALL MINDY, JENNIFER LAWRENCE as KATE DIBIASKY. Cr. NIKO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX © 2021.
Further reading: B612 FoundationPaper: Dont Forget to Look Up.
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What if a 10 km (6.5 mile)- broad asteroid was on a bee-line towards Earth, with an approaching, disastrous impact just six months away? This was the situation in the current Netflix film, “Dont Look Up.” If we have the resources and innovation available and prepared today to prevent such a catastrophe, the film has led many to question.
A new paper taking a look at the technical aspects of such an endeavor states yes. Yes, we do.
What if a 10 km (6.5 mile)- wide asteroid was on a bee-line towards Earth, with an impending, disastrous effect just 6 months away? We have actually gone over the topic with Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart– who assisted found the asteroid research study organization B612. Schweickart has emphasized that the technology needed to divert an asteroid exists today.
Late last year, NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the very first ever planetary defense test mission. It will show that a spacecraft can autonomously browse to and carry out a kinetic impact on a relatively small target asteroid.