Can we save Earth from a meteorite impact in six months?

Astronomers have calculated that we can use nuclear bombs to prevent a meteor of the size of killer planet It affects the Earth, as it happens in the movie do not search.

According to new research, we could save Earth if a space rock is on a collision course with our planet, even if we only have a few months to intervene.

The last science fiction movie do not search From Netflix tells a story in which astronomers discovered a comet 10 km wide that collided with Earth within six months. The film shows how they try to warn the world of an impending disaster, and beg politicians to take action to prevent a catastrophe.

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While the story is intended to be a metaphor for climate change, Philip Lubin and Alexander Cohen, cosmologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wondered whether such a scenario could hold in the real world. “It seems possible,” Lubin says.

response time

If we have several years to trade, the best strategy is to shift the orbit of the next body. However, if we only have six months to stop a space rock of this size, we should instead use atomic bombs to “disassemble” the object, Lubin and Cohen found. They estimate that this is possible with less than 10 percent of the world’s current nuclear arsenal.

Nuclear bombs must be equipped with a thousand deep charges in the form of a spear. It can be launched on one of two super-rockets currently in development: NASA’s Space Launch System or SpaceX’s Reusable Spacecraft. Both will conduct their first test flight in the coming months.

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The launch must take place five months before the asteroid or comet impacts. This means we will only have a month to prepare. “You have to be prepared. You can’t wait,” says Lupine.

fragmentation

The depth charges will strike a month before the date of impact and explode in smaller and smaller rings around the center of the object. This will give us the best chance of breaking it up into small enough pieces, which will be largely pushed out of the Earth’s path.

Will one of those splinters fall to the ground? Perhaps,” says Lubin. “But if the choice is between everyone dying or some, you have to choose that choice.”

The idea makes sense, says Detlev Koschny, head of the Planetary Defense Division at the European Space Agency (ESA). He wonders if we have enough time to work. “Even if there were enough nuclear explosives, you should still have them on a missile within four weeks,” he says. “I don’t see how that could happen.”

Fortunately, current warning systems provide no reason to believe that we will need such massive mobilization anytime soon. “There’s nothing to worry about the next 100 years, but it’s always good to read about things like this,” says Shane O’Brien, an astrophysicist at the University of Glasgow in the UK.

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