Russia mulls beacons and the bomb to thwart asteroids

The wall of a local zinc plant damaged by a shockwave from a meteor in Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013
A view of the wall of a local zinc plant which was damaged by a shockwave from a meteor in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, on February 15, 2013. Russian officials on Tuesday proposed ideas ranging from planting beacon transmitters on asteroids to megaton-sized nuclear strikes to avert the threat from meteor collisions with the Earth.

Russian officials on Tuesday proposed ideas ranging from planting beacon transmitters on asteroids to megaton-sized nuclear strikes to avert the threat from meteor collisions with the Earth.

Saving the world from strikes has moved out of the realm of science fiction in Russia into a political reality after a spectacular meteor explosion injured over 1,500 people in the Russian Urals in February.

The over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk raised fears of what could happen if an even larger space body entered the earth's atmosphere above an inhabited area.

chief Vladimir Popovkin told a special conference at the Federation Council, the Russian upper house, that Russia was closely following the that is due to come close to the Earth in 2036.

"We want to put a 'beacon' on the asteroid Apophis to ascertain its exact orbit and work out what further actions to take with respect to the asteroid's approach to the Earth in 2036," he said quoted by Russian news agencies.

NASA has already said that according to its calculations there is no danger of the asteroid colliding with the Earth.

Popovkin said that an initial state plan to combat threats from space could appear in Russia at the end of 2013 but the first real measures would only be adopted no earlier than 2018-2020.

He did not give details on the cost of the programme, although Russian news agencies said previous estimates had been around 58 billion rubles ($1.9 billion).

A senior official from Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom told the same conference that taking out an asteroid with a nuclear weapon would require a bomb with a force of at least one megaton.

"Intercepting an asteroid of a span of more than one kilometre would need the use of nuclear material of the power of over a megaton," said Oleg Shubin, the deputy director of the department of nuclear munitions experiments at Rosatom.

"This is a separate scientific task that needs to be solved," he added

Shubin said that it could not be predicted well in advance when some 50 percent of asteroids and meteors in the tails of comets would be on a collision course with the earth.

He said while the probability of an asteroid collision was low it could still happen at any time.

"In the foreseeable future I cannot see any other danger that would lead -– at the very least -– to the disintegration of human civilisation," Shubin said.


Explore further

Russia in secret plan to save Earth from asteroid: official

(c) 2013 AFP

Citation: Russia mulls beacons and the bomb to thwart asteroids (2013, March 12) retrieved 30 November 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2013-03-russia-mulls-beacons-thwart-asteroids.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments