Since the Earth was formed, thousands of asteroids, meteorites have harmlessly crossed the Planet Earth, some of which have also crashed into the Earth.
But Asteroid Bennu is creating a chaos among researchers of the possible destruction it could bring to Earth if it collides in 2135 as assumed by NASA with one in 2,700 chance.
Well, we need not freak out about it yet as we already have more than a century to tackle the situation. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration are all working on the case thinking of ideas to avoid the catastrophe in 2135.
Now researchers in collaboration are designing something that could be called as “nudge or nuke” option that could destroy the asteroid.
What they have come up with so far is the ‘Hammer’ that stands for “Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response,” which if successfully built would be 30-foot-tall (9 meter), 8.8-ton spacecraft that could act as either an asteroid destruction vehicle or as a delivery vehicle for a nuclear device.
Now, this Bennu Asteroid is 1,664 times heavier than the Titanic and measures more than five football fields in diameter, which if collides with Planet Earth, it shall unleash 80,000 times more atomic energy than that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Hammer is designed to launch using NASA’s Delta IV Heavy rocket with Researchers strongly believing ramming into the asteroid Bennu to redirect from Earth could be ideal but even those propositions carry the load around it since it should be a “gentle nudge” that does not complicate the situation and cause the asteroid to break up.
The team of researchers has come up with team scenarios of the possible collision launching Hammer missions 10 years prior to the impact.
The team looked at a variety of scenarios. For example, if Earth started launching Hammer missions just 10 years before impact, “it was determined that it could take between 34 and 53 launches of the Delta IV Heavy rocket, each carrying a single Hammer impactor, to make a Bennu-class asteroid miss the Earth,” the lab reported, adding, a gentle nudge is probably not the best solution for an asteroid as big as Bennu.
The lab notes “the findings suggest that the nuclear option may be required with larger objects like Bennu,” now the team is planning to follow up study on nuclear scenarios.
Nasa who has been working on asteroid deflection plans for quite some time now with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. Hammer, However, would be bigger than DART.
On the other hand researchers from the LLNL says the nuclear deflection mission would nowhere look like any Hollywood sci-fi film, but it would involve detonating a nuclear explosive at a distance from the asteroid to vaporize part of the surface and create a rocket-like propulsion effect to alter its course, Cnet reports.