LIVERMORE (CBS SF) – It looks like a scene from a Hollywood sci-fi thriller. But researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have teamed up with a team of Air Force technologists to test whether nuclear bombs can be used to deflect the world. Asteroid
It was Bruce Willis and his crew drilling oil on the asteroid as it approached the Earth in ‘Armageddon’ or Tia Leoni and her father are waiting for a giant wave from an asteroid attack in ‘Deep Impact.’ Space threat
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Lansing Horan IV, a member of the team, said the research was focused on neutron radiation from a nuclear explosion because neutrons can penetrate more than X-rays.
“This means that giving neutrons can heat the asteroid̵7;s surface material in greater quantities, so it is more efficient at asteroid deflection than X-rays,” he said.
Horan said there are two fundamental options for defeating asteroids: halt or deflection.
The disruption is the way in which a large amount of energy is directed to the asteroid, breaking it into large numbers of fragments moving at high speed.
“Past work has found that more than 99.5 percent of the original asteroid’s mass will miss Earth,” he said. “This disruption path would likely be considered if the warning time prior to impact on the asteroid was short and / Or asteroids are relatively small. “
The deflection is a smoother method, which involves giving a smaller amount of energy to the asteroid, keeping the object intact and pushing it to a slightly different orbit with a slightly changed speed.
“Over the years before impact, even a small change in speed can increase the distance lost from Earth,” Horan said. More than if we had enough warning time to announce an answer like this This is why our work is focused on diversion. ”
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Horan said the work is a small step towards simulating nuclear diversion.
“One of the ultimate goals is to determine the optimal neutron energy spectrum, the diffusion of energy stored neutron energy in the best way to maximize the resulting velocity changes or deviations,” he said.
Horan said research shows that accuracy and precision in energy accumulation data is important.
“If the energy accumulation input is incorrect, we shouldn’t have much confidence in the asteroid deflection effect,” he said. Will be used to deflect large asteroids. “
He said that if large incoming asteroid mitigation plans are to be had, spatial profiles, energy accumulation, should be considered to accurately simulate the expected changes in asteroid velocity.
“On the other hand, energy coupling efficiency is always important to consider, even if it is low-yielding compared to smaller asteroids,” he said. The overall asteroid deflection is most noticeable, which has a greater effect on the final velocity change than the spatial distribution. ”
For planning an asteroid reduction mission, these energy parameters need to be taken into account in order to provide accurate simulations and expectations.
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“It is important that we do further research and understand all of the asteroid reduction technologies in order to make the most of the tools in our toolkit,” Horan said. Few have advantages over non-nuclear alternatives In fact, if the warning times are short and / or the asteroid at the scene is large, nuclear explosives may be the only viable option for deviations and / or disruptions. ”