Earth Bound Asteroids Harder To Destroy Than Thought.

Research funded by NASA has found that even a huge impact on a city-sized asteroid would still leave it with enough strength to destroy the planet.

What if one of the millions of asteroids in our solar system was on a collision course with the Earth? What would we do? How would we react?

Scientists have previously thought the larger the object, the easier it would be to break, but recent research conducted at Johns Hopkins University in the US has found asteroids will require more energy to be completely shattered.

These findings can now aid in the creation of asteroid impact and deflection strategies and even help to increase understanding about how the solar system was formed. Earth is impacted fairly often by small asteroids that do not cause significant damage.

However, some scientists believe there is only a matter of time before there is a major asteroid threat. Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute director K.T. Ramesh said: “It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat.

“We need to have a good idea of what we should do when that time comes — and scientific efforts like this one are critical to help us make those decisions.”

A top defensive idea has always been to knock an incoming asteroid off course or obliterate it. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A top defensive idea has always been to knock an incoming asteroid off course or obliterate it. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Johns Hopkins University PhD graduate Charles El Mir added: “It may sound like science fiction but a great deal of research considers asteroid collisions.

“For example, if there’s an asteroid coming at Earth, are we better off breaking it into small pieces or nudging it to go a different direction? And if the latter, how much force should we hit it with to move it away without causing it to break? These are actual questions under consideration.”

The asteroid strength research was conducted using a computer modelling method to simulate asteroid collisions.

The researchers used this method to test what would happen if humans attempted to force a kilometre-wide asteroid to crash into another asteroid that is 25-kilometres wide and easily big enough to destroy life on Earth.

The researchers found the simulated impact was large enough to result in millions of cracks in the asteroid, but it did not stop the giant space rock from retaining significant strength. This article originally appeared on The Sun 

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