Science Too Close For Comfort
posted by August 8 at 15:51 PMon
You may have heard about 99942 Apophis, the asteroid scheduled to pass by our little blue marble in 2029. When it does, there’s a chance that it could plow through something called a “gravitational keyhole,” which would set it on a course to smack into Earth on April 13, 2036.
The current estimate is a 1 in 45,000 chance that Apophis will collide with Earth—not the best of odds, really, when you consider the outcome could resemble something like this:
Thankfully, NASA is already working on a plan to divert Apophis if/when the asteroid decides to destroy all life on our planet. And that plan, according to this posting on Engadget, involves…
…six missile-like interceptor vehicles that would launch aboard an Ares V cargo launch vehicle, each carrying with them a 1.2-megaton B83 nuclear warhead.
And if all goes according to plan, then…
…the warheads apparently wouldn’t actually strike the asteroid directly, but instead detonate at a distance of one-third of its diameter, generating a force that would (theoretically) deflect the asteroid out of the Earth’s path.
Let’s hope it works. Even better: Let’s hope we never need to find out.