NASA anti-asteroid spacecraft 'won't save us from huge rock which could hit Earth in 2135'

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Bennu would hit Earth and release more energy than all the nuclear weapons detonated in history (Getty)

NASA has drawn up plans for an eight-tonne spacecraft designed to deflect asteroids – but admits it would be ‘inadequate’ to deflect a space rock which may hit Earth next century.

The Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) mission would have to resort to nuclear weapons to deflect asteroid ‘Bennu’, which could hit Earth in 2135, NASA admitted.

If Bennu hit our planet, it would explode with more force than all the nuclear weapons detonated in history, and could start fires across an area four times the size of Britain.

The researchers say that they ‘‘ultimately concluded that using a single HAMMER spacecraft as a battering ram would prove inadequate for deflecting an object like Bennu’.

NASA’s plans for the HAMMER craft (NASA)

NASA calculated how much time – and what nuclear payload – would be required to move the 1,600-foot asteroid Bennu.

Professor Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona said that an impact with Bennu would release, ‘three times more energy than all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history”.

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‘The impact would release energy equivalent to 1,450 megatons of TNT.’

‘For comparison, the fission bombs used in World War II had an energy release of roughly 20 kilotons of TNT each and the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, the Russian Tsar Bomba, had a yield of 50 megatons.’