Given the prospect of a sizable asteroid heading for Earth and causing the end of the world, humanity has come up with many different answers.
Hollywood might believe that the best way to destroy a space rocket with nuclear weapons. This is rarely the preferred option of experts, but the use of a spacecraft system to smash an asteroid into small, harmless parts is considered a realistic option. A new study looking at a massive space rock-on-space collision suggests how ineffective this type of asteroid attack can be.
Using computer modeling, scientists simulated a 4,000 foot asteroid in a 1
Over time, the attraction of the elastic core of the asteroid could retract ejected shards. It seems that asteroids not only absorb staggering amounts of damage, but, as suggested in previous work, can also rebuild themselves.
Charles El Mir, asteroid at Johns Hopkins University studied and is the main author of the newspaper, said his findings could be interpreted as an argument against "blasting." an asteroid as a defensive strategy. "
Asteroid collisions and demolitions have been simulated many times over the last decades. Previous studies indicated that large asteroids are full of internal scars because of their violent history and that they could be completely destroyed by a rapid action.
The new study, published this month in the journal Icarus, attempted another simulation.  KT Ramesh, director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, said Andy Tonge, a former student, developed a mathematical model to study how materials such as bullet-proof vests respond to impacts. When he found out that Dr. Tonge was able to simulate asteroid impact events, but the team combined it with another model that also mimics the effects of a gravitational field of a large asteroid.
This hybrid model allowed them to more realistically see an asteroid respond to a hit by a powerful missile. Missing but important details were captured in small format, including the locations where fractures occur and how they would propagate.
Michele Bannister, a planetary astronomer at Queen's University Belfast, described the research as "a good way of improving the modeling of complex physical structures realities" of the enigmatic rocky monsters of the solar system.
The study has limitations. Both asteroids are modeled as simple, non-rotating boulders, while true asteroids are much more variable. In addition, despite its initial accumulation of cracks, the larger asteroid did not have a multi-impact story like real asteroids. A large space rock shattered into a huge space rocket is also different from a rocket attack or a nuclear bomb exploding on or under the surface of an asteroid while a popular rock band is playing.
The study does not rule out using projectiles to destroy a rocket-arriving asteroid, Dr. El Mir. He added that destroying a large asteroid in the end can cause more problems than it resolves. Turning a cannonball into shotgun shells could still lead to Armageddon when the shards hit the earth.
The NASA Coordinating Office for planetary defense, which keeps an eye on asteroids and comets that one day passes close to Earth, proposes to change the trajectory of a space rock by giving it a small boost well before reaching our world gives. NASA and others want to test this strategy in 2022 with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, in which a spacecraft intentionally collides with the smaller member of a binary asteroid system to change its orbit around the larger body.
Ultimately The choice between distraction and destruction largely depends on how quickly an incoming asteroid is discovered.
"Successful distraction becomes more difficult as the warning time decreases," said Megan Bruck Syal, a planetary defense scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "For the shortest warning times, a robust interruption and dispersion of the fragments may be the only possible option to prevent the effects."