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Russia calculates how to nuke an asteroid

Posted on Monday, 29 February, 2016 | Comment icon 20 comments

Could nuclear weapons save the planet ? Image Credit: NASA
Russian scientists have been determining how to use nuclear weapons to protect the Earth from asteroids.
There's no denying that a sufficiently large space rock could prove catastrophic were it to ever hit the Earth - a fact that has prompted a renewed effort in recent years both to catalog any potential threats and to develop new ways of stopping an apocalyptic asteroid before it can hit us.

While some researchers have been coming up with ways to slowly nudge an asteroid off course, scientists in Siberia have been pursuing a decidely less conservative approach to the problem.

With the help of Tomsk State University's SKIF Cyberia supercomputer, the team has been able to calculate what it would take to blow up an incoming asteroid using nuclear weapons without running the risk of having radioactive fragments raining back down on to the Earth afterwards.

Their findings suggested that to obliterate a 200m-long asteroid it would take a one megaton warhead - the equivalent to one million tons of TNT ( or 66 Horishima bombs. )

They also deemed it important to blow the asteroid up as early on as possible because, given that many potentially dangerous asteroids pass us by multiple times, the nuke could be detonated while the object was moving away from us rather than directly towards us.

This, coupled with detonating the nuke behind the rock rather than in front of it, could help to minimize the risk that we would be bombarded with radioactive debris afterwards.

Source: Independent | Comments (20)

Tags: Russia, Asteroid, Nuke

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by RoofGardener on 1 March, 2016, 15:50
Yup If you could persuade a nuke to detonate on the asteroids surface, then it MIGHT do something (it does produce a 'fireball' - plasma, really - that eats everything it touches, but it is only a few dozen meters wide.. perhaps more for a really BIG bomb). But getting it to trigger at JUST the right millisecond would be tricky.
Comment icon #12 Posted by paperdyer on 1 March, 2016, 16:17
Easy. With a phantom bomb. Harte Which opened the Phantom Zone and the asteroid went in there.
Comment icon #13 Posted by paperdyer on 1 March, 2016, 16:21
I wonder if pushing it with rocket engines would be "better?" If you know it's coming and it's still a long way out, you wouldn't have to nudge it much to have it miss earth. If it was close when discovered, then nukes it is! It sounds good in theory, but how do you attach the rockets to the asteroid? You can try crashing the rocket(s) into the mass but with the rockets have enough mass to move the asteroid?
Comment icon #14 Posted by Harte on 1 March, 2016, 21:42
Would a nuke actually WORK in space ? I thought that most explosions - nuke's included - relied as much on air expansion for their impact as they do on expansion of the explosive material itself ? A nuke - in a vacuum - would presumably just produced huge amounts of gamma rays ? (and light). In an atmosphere, those gamma rays are absorbed by the surrounding air (and buildings I guess ? ), producing a pulse of rapidly expanding superheated plasma, which in turn produces the destructive force. But in a vacuum ? The casing and the asteroid provide the plasma. The intense heat causes vaporization ... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Harte on 1 March, 2016, 21:46
It sounds good in theory, but how do you attach the rockets to the asteroid? You can try crashing the rocket(s) into the mass but with the rockets have enough mass to move the asteroid? The word you're looking for there is thrust. Yes, theoretically, rockets could be used to move an asteroid out of our path. This is the tech that the linked article refers to concerning projects that take a long time. If you catch the asteroid a year or two before it hits you, it doesn't take much thrust to change the trajectory enough. But rockets aren't actually the way most of these other suggested theories ... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by Harte on 1 March, 2016, 22:28
Which opened the Phantom Zone and the asteroid went in there. No, that's how the asteroids get out. Harte
Comment icon #17 Posted by Whatsinausername on 2 March, 2016, 9:06
Donald Trumps ego would surely deflect it
Comment icon #18 Posted by nothinglizx2 on 2 March, 2016, 15:35
I think the grid lazer used in Resident Evil could work. Just have it beamed from a satalite or satalites. If that isn't enough, slam some satalites into the meteors at just the right angle adjusting for tilt, spin and rate of spin. By: Tonie Mia-anne Barraco JIC
Comment icon #19 Posted by Harte on 2 March, 2016, 21:43
That won't do it. Harte
Comment icon #20 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 2 March, 2016, 23:04
The best way to use a nuke to move an asteroid is to detonate it below the surface. That way the bomb wil turn some of the surrounding material into plasma, acting as a kind of rocket propellant, thus changing the orbit of the asteroid. The problem with this approach is that you need to know what the composition of the target is before you fire the missile. If it is just a loose collection of rocks (as many asteroids are) you risk ending up with many smaller impactors, instead of just one large one. If the target is a metallic asteroid you risk that the nuke will simply ricochet before it buri... [More]

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