NASA scientists are working on a plan to divert or blow up an asteroid in case it was on course to collide with our planet. There is very low chance of any major asteroid hitting our planet in next few centuries but NASA team is already planning a course of action in case of any risk from an asteroid. NASA published details of its project Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) spacecraft, which would be capable of deflecting high risk asteroids.
Asteroid Bennu is circling the sun at 63,000 mph. Astronomers have been tracking Bennu since 1999 when the giant asteroid was first spotted. NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission is en route to Bennu to take samples. Last year an 100 foot asteroid named 2012TC4 passed within 27,000 miles of Antarctica. Astronomers consider this as close call.
Bennu’s impact would release “three times more energy than all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history”, said Dante Lauretta, professor at the University of Arizona.
Details of NASA Hammer mission have been published in the journal Acta Astronautica. The research paper also provides details about payload and time required to move or destroy 1,600-foot wide asteroid Bennu.
NASA research paper added that preparation in advance would be required for such a project. As per research team, project Hammer would need 7.4 years from the development phase to reaching the asteroid. Most of the asteroids hitting our planet are quite small in size and they don’t pose any risk. However, some of the large asteroids can be a risk factor. NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies now lists 73 asteroids which have a one in 1,600 chance of hitting our planet.