(INTELLIHUB) — Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Planet Defense Group scientist Megan Bruck Syal revealed during a presentation at the University of California in early April how the U.S. government plans to avoid a comic catastrophe using a kinetic impactor or nuclear device as previously reported by Intellihub.
A Science and Technology abstract reveals:
Our planet has been continually bombarded by asteroids since its formation, 4.5 billion years ago. While the frequency of large impacts has decreased, many potential Near-Earth Object threats remain undiscovered, so if or when they will impact Earth remains unknown. Fortunately, if an Earth-threatening asteroid is discovered in time, there are ways to mitigate or even prevent a disaster. If an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth, it can be diverted by a few different methods. For long warning times and asteroids that are not too big, a heavy “kinetic impactor” spacecraft can be used to impact the asteroid at high speeds, giving it a slight nudge so that it safely misses Earth. When warning times are short or the asteroid is large, kinetic impactors cannot provide enough momentum for the asteroid to miss Earth. In these cases, a nuclear device can be sent into space to deflect the asteroid. Very short warning time scenarios, where deflection is impossible, can be handled by using a similar device to fragment the asteroid into many small, well-dispersed pieces. Scientists at LLNL provide computer simulations in preparation these scenarios so if the time comes where an asteroid is headed our way, we will be prepared.
Dr. Syal says we need to know about near-earth objects ahead of time to avoid a catastrophe like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Syal maintains that nearly 2000 near-earth asteroids have been found over the last year and she expects, even more, will be located each year.
“There is a lot that they are missing still,” she explained to the audience attending the presentation.
Syal said what we really need is an infrared space-based observatory such as the NEOcam to become active in the next few years which she says “would be a really good asteroid hunter.”
“Just two years ago the White House came out with the near-earth object action plan so we can be better prepared for what to do in a real emergency,” she explained. “… if you want to prevent an asteroid impact you have to do something to it you have to nudge it off course.”
Syal said to model this you need very expensive and detailed computer simulations in order to better understand what may happen and how to prevent it.
Moreover, Syal said that governments worldwide need to cooperate as NEOs pose a threat to all countries and not just one.
LLNL post-doctorate scholar Mary Burkey also speaking at the presintation said that there are several ways to go about deflecting a near-earth object.
There are three ways to mitigate an asteroid, Burkey explained.
Kinetic impactor, nuclear deflection, and nuclear disruption all options, she said. The only other option left if all else fails is to “brace for impact.”
The following image shows a proposed kinetic impact plan.
The following image shows a proposed nuclear deflection campaign.
And the third and final image shows a proposed nuclear disruption campaign.
Burkey says that nuclear disruption is the way to go if you only have limited time to break a large asteroid apart.
Keep in mind the U.S. government may be attempting to deflect the asteroid known as 1998 OR2 which NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory variable data shows that an impact with the earth is possible on April 29 and for several weeks after when it intercepts earth a second time as reported by Intellihub in an April 3 report titled ELE coming? World’s populace brought into lockdown ahead of anticipated, possible, April 29 extinction-level event.
You can watch the whole presentation in the video posted above.
H/T: @JasonBermas on Twitter