It’s been a staple of sci-fi movies for years, and now the Russian space agency has a plan in place to actually nuke any potential asteroid before it can go full-fledged Deep Impact.
According to The Telegraph, the European Commission backed Russian scientists to help develop a workable plan to take out any massive asteroids that could end up on a collision course with Earth. The program, dubbed NEOShield, matched rocket engineers with space researchers to figure out the most effective way to deliver a warhead that could save us all (assuming Bruce Willis isn’t available).
After looking at all the variables, the program’s architects determined that the most effective way to pull off this feat would be to carry out the mission while the asteroid is still in deep space (meaning we’d have to spot it well ahead of time). The goal would be to potentially alter the asteroid’s course to push it away from Earth, by detonating very close to the object, as opposed to just blowing it to smithereens (which could just make a whole lot of smaller, equally dangerous, asteroids).
As part of the initiative, Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, is also developing a program to track asteroids while they’re still in deep space (which, yeah, that makes sense) as part of an early warning center. The programmers hope to use four satellites to track the space around for large asteroids, because the entire plan is useless if we don’t actually catch them on time.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 bans the use of nuclear weapons in space, but you’d have to think an exception could be made if it meant potentially saving us all from complete annihilation.
(Via The Telegraph)