Bad news! Destruction of THIS type of asteroid is very difficult | Tech News

Bad news! Destruction of THIS type of asteroid is very difficult

Destroying an asteroid which is on its way towards Earth could prove to be a very difficult task, a study finds.

| Updated on: Jan 24 2023, 17:09 IST
5 Massive asteroids zooming towards Earth in coming days! Check speed, distance, more
1/5 Asteroid 2023 AE1: It is a bus-sized asteroid of 40 foot and is travelling towards Earth at a great speed of 19944 kilometers per hour. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has alerted about the same and has informed that it will make its closest approach to planet Earth on Sunday, January 22, at a distance of 1450000 kilometers. (Bloomberg)
2/5 Asteroid 2019 BO2: Another asteroid that will be zooming towards our planet is 2019 BO2. NASA has informed that it is 67 foot in size and will make the closest Earth approach at a distance of 4630000 kilometers on January 24, 2023. The airplane-sized asteroid is travelling at a staggering speed of 58356 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2019 BZ4: NASA has warned that a 62 foot house sized asteroid named 2019 BZ4 will be nearing Earth on January 24. According to the research organisation, the asteroid is travelling at a speed of 20160 kilometers per hour. The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 6320000 kilometers per hour. (Wikimedia Commons)
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4/5 Asteroid 2023 AQ1: January 25 will be witnessing a massive 170 foot asteroid racing towards planet Earth. This airplane sized asteroid will make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of 3910000 kilometers at a mind numbing speed of 56556 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2023 AP1: The 85 foot asteroid will make its closest Earth approach at a distance of 3910000 kilometers. The asteroid is travelling at a speed of 33768 kilometers per hour and is said to pass by the planet without posing any kind of threat or danger. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Asteroid Itokawa is at a distance of nearly 2 million kilometers from Earth. (Stable Diffusion)

If you've ever wondered what would happen if an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth, then NASA already has the answer for you. The space agency last year carried out its first planetary defense test wasteroith the DART Mission by smashing a spacecraft into an oncoming asteroid to deflect it off its course. It was a $330 million venture which proved to be a success as the target asteroid named Dimorphos deflected off its path. Though this test was a success, a recent study has thrown a wrench in the operation as it has been revealed that deflecting asteroids might be relatively easy, but destroying them isn't.

According to a report published by EurekAlert, the study conducted by an international team of researchers led by the Curtin University in Australia involved study of three dust particles collected from the surface of 500-meter asteroid named, Itokawa, returned to Earth by the Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa 1 probe. It was revealed that Itokawa was hard to destroy and resistant to collision- it would be like hitting a sponge with a bat.

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Professor Fred Jourdan, lead author of the study and Director of the Western Australian Argon Isotope Facility at the University revealed that the Itokawa is nearly as old as the solar system and is not one single rock, but belongs to the rubble pile family, meaning it is made of loose boulders and rocks.

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Jourdan said, “Unlike monolithic asteroids, Itokawa is not a single lump of rock, but belongs to the rubble pile family which means it's entirely made of loose boulders and rocks, with almost half of it being empty space.”

The dust particles were studied using two techniques. One of them is Electron Backscattered Diffraction which was used to determine if the asteroid was ever shocked by any meteor impact. The other technique, known as argon-argon dating is a radiometric dating method to date any asteroid impacts.

“In short, we found that Itokawa is like a giant space cushion, and very hard to destroy,” Jourdan added further. However, all is not lost, there is a silver lining to the story.

Co-author Associate Professor Nick Timms, also from Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said, “The good news is that we can also use this information to our advantage - if an asteroid is detected too late for a kinetic push, we can then potentially use a more aggressive approach like using the shockwave of a close-by nuclear blast to push a rubble-pile asteroid off course without destroying it.”

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First Published Date: 24 Jan, 17:04 IST

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