Can experts protect Earth from the impact of asteroids? Proposal of a new way to “slice, slice” quickly a giant space rock for planetary defense

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Experts would like to slice and slice up asteroids to prevent Armageddon on Earth. Experts have named this new planetary defense technology “Pulverize It” – PI for short.

In the previous 113 years, two massive asteroids struck Earth that could have killed millions of people if they had collided with a large metropolis. Mankind, on the other hand, has been lucky.

According to experts, now is the time to honestly plan and implement a planetary defense program in light of this real threat. With PI, experts can approach the ultimate environmental protection program in a rational and cost-effective manner.

In a study titled “PI: Terminal planetary defenseStudy author Philip Lubin discusses what is needed to protect Earth from asteroids in a short period of time. Lubin, professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara.

(Photo: Pixabay)
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New Planetary Defense: Sliced ​​and Diced Asteroids

Placing an array of penetrating rods, possibly filled with explosives, in the asteroid’s path to “slice and dice” the threatening object is critical to the PI approach, Futurity said. . The penetrating rods, about 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) in diameter and 6-10 feet long, fracture the core of the asteroid or comet when it strikes them.

According to the researchers, the technique, rather than hijacking the object, is to disintegrate the asteroid into tiny pieces the size of a house and then let the pieces enter Earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere then absorbs the energy, which vaporizes the house-sized fragments into tiny debris that does not fall to Earth.

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Because the original asteroid now hits the atmosphere as a huge scattered cloud of tiny chunks, the energy of the impact is distributed geographically and temporally, de-correlating the blast waves produced by each component. This greatly reduces the danger of disastrous to something akin to “fireworks”, filled with light and music.

“Slice and Dice” technology detects asteroids or comets near the Earth. Experts can add this via existing launchers like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 or NASA’s SLS for larger targets. Smaller targets, such as the Chelyabinsk meteor, could be avoided minutes before the collision by using much smaller launchers comparable to ICBM interceptors. In contrast, larger targets, such as Apophis, could be stopped just ten days before impact, scientists estimate. Such short periods of attenuation are unheard of, the researchers say.

Is it more efficient?

If such calculations are correct, the PI approach would be a much more adaptable planetary security strategy than NASA’s current effort to alter the trajectory of an near-Earth asteroid by crashing a rocket into it. The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission will launch in November, but the test rocket will take almost a year to reach its target: the moon of the 160-meter-wide asteroid Didymos. If the rocket collision is successful, it will slow the moon’s orbit just enough for scientists to assess whether asteroid redirection is possible.

However, Space.com said PI would need significant testing to verify its viability, starting with ground tests on dummy asteroids and progressing to actual targets in space. No such experience is planned at the moment. The ability of scientists to identify tiny near-Earth asteroids like the Chelyabinsk impactor before they hit the atmosphere is also critical to the method’s effectiveness. It is also a work in progress.

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