Massive asteroid headed for Earth? ‘Pulverize It’, says NASA awardee
Space can seem like a beautiful painting with stars twinkling and celestial bodies floating around against an immense black background. But a closer look will tell you how terrifying it can truly be. With millions of asteroids and comets rushing in random directions at a great speed, it is a scary place for our planet Earth to be in. It is almost like being in the middle of a war with bullets and rockets flying around everywhere. How long can it truly be before one hits? And are we just playing a waiting game of when an asteroid finally does strike? Remember, an asteroid killed of all the dinosaurs. Instead of waiting, NASA awardee Philip Lubin says it is time to take the fight to the asteroid. He said, just ‘Pulverize It'.
Professor Lubin is a scientist from the University of California Santa Barbara who is developing an innovative model called ‘PI-Terminal Defense for Humanity', where the PI stands for Pulverize It. Lubin believes that in the event that an asteroid heads for the Earth on a short notice, much like the recent Leonardo DiCaprio movie Don't Look Up highlighted, the only way to protect humans would be to blow the asteroid up into small pieces. And as shocking as it may sound, NASA has found this idea worth investing in.
NASA wants to pulverize asteroids headed towards Earth
Lubin showcased his idea at the 2021 Planetary Defense Conference and was awarded with a funding grant at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. The idea is now part of NASA's Phase One program of NIAC, highlighting that the space agency must have seen some viability and sustainability of the model. The NIAC program is a NASA initiative to foster and promote ideas that are visionary and can transform future NASA missions.
Lubin's model of planetary defense also aligns pretty closely with the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), a department in NASA that solely focuses on observing potentially hazardous asteroids and finding solutions for a possible asteroid strike to earth. The PI-Terminal Defense for Humanity model could be a great match for that department.
The need for advanced research and coming up with strong solutions against asteroid strike om Earth has become a necessity. There have been many incidents in the past that indicate this should not be taken lightly. From the Tunguska event and Chelyabinsk meteor strike in Russia to close events in the past 2 years like meteor explosions in Turkey and Pittsburgh, USA, highlight that the next big asteroid hit could just be around the corner.