Scientists Have a Plan to Nuke Deadly Asteroids Out of the Sky

DATE: 13/12/2016

If an enormous asteroid struck the Earth, humanity would be, in a word, screwed. To prevent that from happening, and hopefully inspire a sweet Armageddon reboot in the process, a team of scientists is exploring the possibility of nuking asteroids out of the sky. Yes, you heard that correctly.

Nuking asteroids to prevent the apocalypse sounds like science fiction, but among scientists working in planetary defense-a field concerned with safeguarding the Earth against deadly bolides-it's a delightfully legitimate idea. At a press conference at the American Geophysical Union meeting this week, researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center spoke about the best approaches for preventing a sequel to the KT-extinction. It turns out there are really only two good options: kinetic impactors, which jostle Earth-bound comets and asteroids onto more benign orbits, and explosives, which blow them to smithereens.

There are 15,000 known near Earth objects that could, at some point in the future, pose a threat to our planet. Planetary defense, the concept of protecting ourselves against these cosmic interlopers, has been around for decades, but it's gained considerable momentum this past year, with the launching of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office.


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