Nav: Home

The preventive destruction

July 27, 2016

Employees of the Department of Celestial Mechanics and Astrometry NII PMM of Tomsk state university (Russia) and colleagues from St. Petersburg State University, Keldysh Research Center, and Research Institute Sirius are developing measures to protect the Earth from potentially dangerous celestial bodies. With the help of supercomputer SKIF Cyberia, the scientists simulated the nuclear explosion of an asteroid 200 meters in diameter in such a way that its irradiated fragments do not fall to the Earth.

- The way we propose to eliminate the threat from space is reasonable to use in case of the impossibility of the soft disposal of an object from a collision in orbit and for the elimination of an object that is constantly returning to Earth, - says Tatiana Galushina, an employee of the Department of Celestial Mechanics and Astrometry - Previously, as a preventive measure, it was proposed to abolish the asteroid on its approach to our planet, but this could lead to catastrophic consequences - a fall to Earth of the majority of the highly radioactive fragments.

TSU scientists with colleagues from other research centres have offered another solution to the problem. It is known that the majority of dangerous objects pass close to Earth several times before the collision. Therefore, there is a possibility to blow up the asteroid at the time when it is farther from the planet. This measure will be much more effective and safer.

For computer modeling as a potential target was taken a celestial body with a diameter of 200 meters, similar to the asteroid Apophis, which in 2029 will approach Earth at a distance of 38,000 kilometers. Calculations have shown that for the destruction of the object there must be the impact of a nuclear device with energy of one megaton of TNT equivalent. In this case, part of the asteroid turns into gas and liquid droplets, and some will break into pieces no larger than 10 meters. This is the maximum in terms of safety for the Earth.

- Because the rocket catches behind the asteroid, almost all the pieces after the destruction will fly forward, - says Tatiana Galushina. - In this case the orbit of the fragments will be significantly different from the asteroid's orbit. For 10 years after the explosion an insignificant number of fragments will fall to Earth. Their radioactivity during this time will be reduced considerably, and after a few years they will not pose a danger. It is worth adding that nuclear explosions in space are prohibited by international treaty, but in the case of a real threat to humanity maybe there will be an exception to this rule.

Specialists from different areas who are experts in celestial mechanics and ballistics worked on the project. The scientists note that the theoretical calculations are only the beginning of the work, without which the practical implementation on the preventive measures protecting the Earth is impossible.
-end-


National Research Tomsk State University

Related Nuclear Articles:

Six degrees of nuclear separation
For the first time, Argonne scientists have printed 3D parts that pave the way to recycling up to 97 percent of the waste produced by nuclear reactors.
How to dismantle a nuclear bomb
MIT team successfully tests a new method for verification of weapons reduction.
Material for nuclear reactors to become harder
Scientists from NUST MISIS developed a unique composite material that can be used in harsh temperature conditions, such as those in nuclear reactors.
Nuclear physics -- probing a nuclear clock transition
Physicists have measured the energy associated with the decay of a metastable state of the thorium-229 nucleus.
Milestones on the way to the nuclear clock
For decades, people have been searching for suitable atomic nuclei for building an ultra-precise nuclear clock.
Nuclear winter would threaten nearly everyone on Earth
If the United States and Russia waged an all-out nuclear war, much of the land in the Northern Hemisphere would be below freezing in the summertime, with the growing season slashed by nearly 90 percent in some areas, according to a Rutgers-led study.
The vanishing nuclear industry
Could nuclear power make a significant contribution to decarbonizing the US energy system over the next three or four decades?
Balancing nuclear and renewable energy
Argonne researchers explore the benefits of adjusting the output of nuclear power plants according to the changing supply of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
En route to the optical nuclear clock
Together with colleagues from Munich and Mainz, researchers at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have performed the first-ever optical measurements of some important properties of the low-energy state of the Th-229 nucleus.
What's next for nuclear medicine training?
The 'Hot Topic' article in the October issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, titled Nuclear Medicine Training: What Now?, examines the role of nuclear medicine in the era of precision medicine and the need for training to evolve with the practice.
More Nuclear News and Nuclear Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab