NASA will do THIS if an asteroid was about to hit Earth
Every day we see reports of some massive asteroid or the other approaching Earth and then flying by the planet. These near Earth objects have tremendous powers of destruction if they did hit Earth. But have you ever wondered about what will happen if asteroid hits Earth? US space agency NASA keeps a watchful eye on the happenings in space, especially those that threaten the Earth, like asteroids. NASA reacts to it accordingly if it sees anything dangerous coming towards the planet. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently released a video discussing what will really happen if an asteroid hits Earth. The video features NASA Planetary Defense Expert Dr. Kelly Fast and she can be seen saying that it is important to find and locate the asteroids before they become a threat as doing so can prevent the biggest natural disaster of them all.
Currently, an asteroid hitting Earth is the only natural disaster that can actually be prevented, the expert said in the video. NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office tracks asteroids and calculates their orbits far into the future. If an asteroid impact threat is discovered years or decades in advance, then a mission to deflect teh asteroid away from hitting Earth may be possible.
However, the problem is that many asteroids escape detection till they are very near Earth and they do not leave much time to take action. These actually fly in towards the Earth from various blind spots especially while coming from the direction of the Sun.
How can an asteroid be prevented from hitting Earth
There are a few methods that NASA is studying to deflect an asteroid on a course to impact Earth. One of these techniques is called a gravity tractor. According to NASA, the techniques involves a spacecraft that would rendezvous with an asteroid (but not land on its surface) and maintain its relative, optimal position to use the mutual gravity attraction between the satellite and the asteroid to slowly alter the course of the asteroid. A gravity tractor spacecraft could even enhance its own gravitational attraction by first plucking a boulder off the surface of the asteroid to add to its own mass.
Apart from this a kinetic impactor is currently the simplest and most technologically mature method available to defend against asteroids. In this technique, a spacecraft is launched that simply slams itself into the asteroid at speed. This mission has recently been lauched and it is called the Double-Asteroid Redirect Test mission (DART). Scientists will test the kinetic impact technique of DART on an asteroid system called Didymos in 2022.
Nuclear explosive device methods are considered the last resort when it comes to near Earth orbit (NEO) asteroid deflection. However, they may end up being the most effective for preventing a cataclysmic event. When warning time is short or the asteroid is large, deploying a nuclear device is the most effective option.
A standoff detonation is the method with the most controllability and predictability for using a nuclear device to deflect an asteroid. This method works by detonating a nuclear device at a few hundred meters above the surface of the asteroid.