Nasa has plans to use eight tonne spaceships filled with nuclear weapons to save humanity from imminent destruction, the space agency has revealed.
The US space agency has unveiled its disaster deterrent plans. Known as Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response), these plans will be used to destroy asteroids that are on course to wipe out life on Earth.
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Nasa scientists have previously warned that Earth is due a devastating asteroid strike.
Nasa hasn’t drawn up these plans in preparation for any particular strike. However, the 492-metre asteroid 101955 Bennu is used as an example in Nasa’s research, published in space journal Acta Astronautica.
Bennu has been of interest to Nasa since it was first discovered in 1999.
There is a one in 2,700 chance that the asteroid will clash with Earth. Should that occur, it will release energy equivalent to 1,450 megatons of TNT, which is expected to wipe out an area more than four times the size of the UK.
Thankfully, there is still plenty of time. The space agency doesn’t expect Bennu to reach Earth until 2135. Experts have calculated that it will take 7.4 years to develop, built, launch and detonate a Hammer missile.
Bennu is one of many asteroids that could potentially harm humanity. Nasa currently lists 73 asteroids with a one in 1,600 chance of hitting Earth.
Why it matters:
An asteroid capable of wiping out Earth’s civilisation comes along approximately once every few million years according to the Nasa website. However, research shows that catastrophic asteroids tend to collide with Earth approximately once every 50 million to 60 million years.
Experts believe that a 10 kilometre-wide asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago.
Nasa scientist Joseph Nuth previously said:
“They’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially. You could say, of course, we’re due.”
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Nasa reported close encounters with comets in 1996 and 2014. Likewise, a 10 metre micro-asteroid, 2014TC4, passed within 27,000 miles of Antarctica in 2012.
Nasa isn’t the only organisation working on asteroid deterrents. A team of researchers from Rosatom, a Russian nuclear energy company, has been working on a similar plan to avert potential disasters.
Study co-author Vladimir Yufa, professor at the departments of Applied Physics and Laser Systems and Structured Materials, said:
At the moment, there are no asteroid threats, so our team has the time to perfect this technique for use later in preventing a planetary disaster.
We’re also looking into the possibility of deflecting an asteroid without destroying it and hope for international engagement.