Various asteroids have been observed and due to their paths can pass close to Earth, some of them can even hit the planet. For this reason, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States are studying developing a new way to alter the paths of asteroids that could threaten the world.
According to the American press, the researchers joined a “team of air force technicians” and focused on the neutron radiation produced by a nuclear detonation to achieve their goal.
The study, led by Lansing Horan, explains that neutrons will be more permeable than X-rays, as they “can heat large quantities of material from the surface of the asteroid.”
There are two main options for dealing with a dangerous asteroid on Earth. Destruction is the method of transferring so much energy to the asteroid that it is forcefully shattered into many fragments moving at top speeds.
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Deflection is the “smoother, safer, and more elegant” alternative, which involves transferring less energy to the asteroid, keeping the object intact, and propelling it into a slightly different orbit at a slightly modified speed. This will require starting work “many years before the impact”.
Deflection is the “smoother, safer and elegant” alternative, which involves transmitting less energy to the asteroid.
Neutrons of different energies can interact with the same substance through different reaction mechanisms. By changing the distribution and density of the deposited energy, the resulting deflection of an asteroid can also be affected.
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Horan also highlighted the importance of studying and understanding “all asteroid mitigation techniques to maximize the toolkit,” noting that in some scenarios, using a nuclear device would have “several advantages”.
“In fact, if the warning time is short and / or the asteroid crashing is large, then nuclear explosives may be the only viable option we have for deflection and / or perturbation,” he said.