Monday, July 05, 2010

Nuclear Weapons Might Save Mankind From Killer Asteroids

Atomic bomb exploding
In the movie Armageddon, the scientists say that launching nuclear rockets will make the problem worse by bursting the asteroid into thousands of pieces, creating the same life ending scenario, except with smaller pieces.

So they come up with the solution to land on the asteroid and drill deep into it, plant a nuclear bomb, and explode it from it's interior. Instead of bursting it into thousands of pieces; it would split the asteroid in half and out of Earth's orbit, as shown in the movie.

Let's get our minds out of movies for a second and listen to real scientists. Bruce Willis won't be here for the real thing I can assure you that!

According to physicist David Dearborn, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California--nuclear weapons could be a solution for an asteroid that would impact Earth within 50 years or so. The power of the nuclear explosion, he believes, would knock the asteroid out of it's orbit with Earth.

On the contrary, David Morrison, director at Nasa Lunar Science Institue and senior scientist at Nasa's Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California, said this to "If we have an asteroid that is really large, and we don't have more than a few years notice, nuclear is probably all we can do. If it's a mile or smaller and we have 10 to 20 years warning, we probably won't go nuclear."
On July 10, the Rosetta--a European spacecraft--will flyby the asteroid called Lutetia in hopes of capturing valuable photographs for scientists to study. This will further advance the somewhat small knowledge known about asteroids in space. If we go further into the future, by 2025, NASA plans to send astronauts to land on an asteroid. If that happens, it will be one hell of a day!

Landing on asteroids and planting nuclear weapons may be a viable option in some cases, however, according to Morrison, ballistic rockets may be an even better solution.

"If we test the ballistic impact, as people have proposed doing, then we can make it much more accurate than a nuke. One of the problems with the nuclear alternative is that I don't think anyone will ever let us test it," he said.

The other scientist, Dearborn, explains that exploding an asteroid with powerful enough nuclear explosives could be an effective solution to knock it off it's orbit with Earth. It could even be done with an asteroid as close as 15 days from impact.

"If you can intersect it 15 days out, which is beyond the orbit of the moon, that would be fine," said Dearson.

You would still have to worry about space debris, but, he says, if you use enough nuclear energy, it will diminish most of the debris before it gets to Earth.

The farther the explosion out in space, the less of an impact the debris may cause.

As our technology stands today, we should have the ability to protect the Earth from big asteroids. Sadly, the only thing technology has for us to solve such a problem is nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets.

Do you think nuclear weapons should be used if an asteroid impact is imminent?

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