The best way to deflect an apocalyptic asteroid solved by doomsday busting scientists

SCIENTISTS have found a way to help humanity avoid an apocalyptic asteroid impact.

With a mix of probes and projectiles, it would be possible to throw an incoming space rock off its collision course with Earth.

Scientists could deflect an approaching asteroid with a kamikaze spacecraft


Scientists could deflect an approaching asteroid with a kamikaze spacecraftPhoto credit: Getty

Developed in 2020 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the system aims to help us fight deadly asteroids before it’s too late.

Space rocks like Apophis and Bennu, for example, are well known to astronomers and are expected to come perilously close to Earth over the next century. There are currently no asteroids that we know are on course to impact our planet.

“Most scientists believe that if you’ve ever been on a crash course with our home planet, it’s never too early to consider strategies for deflecting an asteroid,” MIT wrote in a statement website.

Researchers developed a framework to identify which methods would be most effective in deflecting an incoming asteroid.

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It takes into account the size and speed of the asteroid, as well as the amount of advance warning scientists get before an impact occurs.

Their modeling came up with a decision map that gives us three choices if an asteroid is coming our way.

The first involves launching a projectile to change the course of the rock, while the second involves sending a probe to survey the object to help scientists figure out the best way to develop the projectile .

The third option is to send two probes to measure and also position the asteroid in a position that will later make it easier to knock it out with a projectile.

Simulations run on digital versions of Bennu and Apophis suggest that timing is key.

If an impact is five years or more ahead, it’s best to send two probes followed by a projectile.

Tighten the time frame to two to five years, and humanity is better off sending just one probe before hitting the rock with a projectile.

With just a year to go before impact, there’s nothing we could do to avoid a collision, scientists have warned.

The official plan to avoid a major collision is to hit the incoming rock with nuclear weapons.

This has proved controversial among scientists arguing for nuclear power may not even have the power required smash an asteroid.

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It’s unclear whether MIT’s proposal will do anything — the system relies heavily on our detection systems to detect collisions years in advance.

The research was published in the journal Acta Astronautica.

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