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 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”.
MOST POPULAR TODAY ON YAHOO
- Russia bites back and says it will expel British diplomats
- Freezing weather expected this weekend as Met Office issues yellow warning for snow and ice
- Watch: Shocking moment gang member grabs pen and attacks witness in court before being shot dead
- Memorial benches installed by relatives of the deceased ‘are turning beauty spots into graveyards’
- In pictures: The top 10 happiest countries in the world
‘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.’