The US Department of Space Administration and National Nuclear Safety Authority say that their Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER) project may save lives on Earth. Researchers at the LLNL have been busy thinking about what 's needed to do that. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (19659003) Englisch: emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 120 & lang = en 79 billion kilos of stone and chunks of ice to move.
The Answer: It Matters
"The pressure you have to give is very low asteroid 50 years ago." says Kirsten Howley, the physicist of the planetary defense team. "Delay is the biggest enemy of any asteroid diversion mission."
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They propose nine-meter-long projectiles weighing about 8.8 tons.
A single HAMMER impactor was able to divert an object 90 meters in diameter by about 1.4 earth radii with a lead time of 10 years – from the time of launch to the expected impact.
The cost of each of these warhead / Delta Heavy IV missiles has not been calculated. But sending the only OSIRIS Rex probe to Bennu was in the arena of $ 1 billion.
It is estimated that it would take about 7.4 years to build, launch and fly such a rocket before it hit its target.
The longer we wait, the more warheads we will need.
The impactor design is modular. The rocket can be designed to carry another warhead, depending on the composition of the asteroid it was targeted for
. The idea is to put a number of warheads into orbit shortly before Bennu. The asteroid would then hit them at speeds in excess of 35,000 km / h. The kinetic energy (battering effect) of such an impact alone is enormous.
But if necessary, it could also be used to trigger nuclear bombs.
These would not hit the asteroid. They would go over its surface and evaporate the material there. This ejecta would throw the asteroid in the opposite direction.
But even the biggest warheads that could carry such missiles had to hit the Bennu asteroid decades before it would pass Earth. In this way, even a small nudge could accumulate to a large security gap at critical time.
"Whenever practicable, the kinetic impactor is the preferred approach, but various factors, such as large uncertainties or short available reaction time, reduce the suitability of the kinetic impactor and ultimately its inadequacy," the researchers write.