How to destroy an asteroid without nuking each other first

asteroid
An artist's impression of an asteroid breaking up. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the event of an asteroid heading to Earth and likely to cause catastrophic damage, an Armageddon-style nuclear explosion may well be our best line of defence. But would doing so lead the way to potential space-based nuclear apocalypse instead?

Professor James A. Green from the University of Reading has explored the legal issues surrounding the 'nuclear option' in a new article published in the Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. The paper looks the of seeing a Ronald Reagan-esque Star Wars scenario in , if 'asteroids' become a justification for ignoring laws that prohibit using in space.

James A. Green, Professor of Public International Law at the University of Reading said:

"I was somewhat surprised when I began looking into the hypothetical situation in Michael Bay's Armageddon. In particular, not only are there serious scientific discussions about the merits or not of a nuclear approach to asteroids, but legal restrictions that currently would mean that the heroic actions of a group of ragtag oil drillers likely would be in breach of a number of international treaties.

"The current state of the law leaves us in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' scenario. The prohibitions in place protect us from space nukes but put us at risk of extinction if that killer asteroid ever appears. If we don't relax the law a little, then countries may just ignore the law to shoot down an asteroid, which would challenge the whole legal regime; relax the law too much, though, and we risk undoing all the efforts made to stop a nuclear space age."

While the risk of a Near Earth Object (NEO) hitting our planet is very small and most small NEOs are likely to disintegrate as they enter the atmosphere, NASA's NEO observation platform discovers around 40 objects each week, and currently lists around 1900 asteroids that could be 'potentially hazardous' to our planet.

Following a 2013 asteroid impact in Chelyabinsk in Russia, the UN develop an initiative to combat an apocalyptic asteroid strike. Prior to 2013, most of the activity has been focused on identification of asteroids rather than ways to tackle a potential asteroid impact, although recent efforts by the European Space Agency have looked at the feasibility of technology to deflect asteroids on a with the Earth.

While US President John F. Kennedy and co may well never have dreamt of a scenario in 1963 where a nuclear weapon would need to be used against a NEO, Professor Green sets out how the passing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty among other provisions restricts the exploding of nuclear bombs in space.

The paper goes onto look at arguments for and against a NEO scenario being so exceptional as to get around these treaties. Green however concludes that were the events of Armageddon to actually be required, unless we develop some forms of legal exception, states will take measures into their own hands – which is worse.

Professor Green said: "At the same time as I was conducting this research, the US Government began talking openly about both asteroid defence and about the militarization of space. Far from being an escapist, full of explosions blockbuster, the idea behind the film and this research sets out some of the considerable legal questions that would need to be asked in the event of an impending asteroid."


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More information: James A. Green, 'Planetary Defense: Near-Earth Objects, Nuclear Weapons, and International Law' (2019) 42(1) Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 1-71. repository.uchastings.edu/hast … review/vol42/iss1/2/
Citation: How to destroy an asteroid without nuking each other first (2019, April 25) retrieved 15 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-asteroid-nuking.html
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Apr 25, 2019
STOP BEATING AROUND THE BUSH, WE ALL KNOW THIS IS ABOUT USING A NUKE TO DEFLECT APOPHIS WHICH HAS A 100% CHANCE OF HITTING THE EARTH IN 10-20 YEARS.

THEY KEY IS TO DETONATE IT NOT TOO CLOSE AND NOT TOO FAR AWAY. THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS BLOW IT UP INTO 1000 PIECES. WE NEED TO PUSH IT OFF COURSE WITH A NUKE. THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE PREPARING YOU SHEEP FOR PSYCHOLOGICALLY.

Apr 25, 2019
watch the youtube of undergound nuclear testing in the 50's.
a megaton nuke with a bunker busting warhead would be more than sufficient to disintigrate an asteroid with a mile radius. lots of little 10-30 meter asteroids might cause huge problems for us but major cities would be fine unless a flurry of them exploded directly over the sky of the major city itself.

worst case scenario , one large +megaton nuke is detonated just below the surfact of the asteroid, and a 2nd follow up nuke is detonated in the middle of the field of small asteroids, to push them far from one another so they don't cluster in their descent on earth. the more spread out they are the less harmful.

man kind now has the definite ability to protect itself from asteroids that it can see coming within 3-4 days. If we don't have that much heads up time , and a large asteroid of 1-5 km radius is able to surprise us (unlikely!), civlization will go dark, but the species ultimately survives .

Apr 25, 2019
doogsnova:
STOP BEATING AROUND THE BUSH, WE ALL KNOW THIS IS ABOUT USING A NUKE TO DEFLECT APOPHIS WHICH HAS A 100% CHANCE OF HITTING THE EARTH IN 10-20 YEARS.
Flaming pants: https://phys.org/...ert.html
Article cites a 1 in 100,000 chance over the next century.

THEY KEY IS TO DETONATE IT NOT TOO CLOSE AND NOT TOO FAR AWAY. THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS BLOW IT UP INTO 1000 PIECES. WE NEED TO PUSH IT OFF COURSE WITH A NUKE.
In some scenarios, blowing an asteroid to pieces would seem to be advantageous as long as there aren't too many large pieces still on collision course with Earth. It's the difference between getting hit by a very large caliber bullet or a shotgun blast from a distance. A few pellets is better than the whole slug.

THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE PREPARING YOU SHEEP FOR PSYCHOLOGICALLY.
I wonder what psychology compels commenters like you to post falsehoods like your 100% claim.

Here the answer to your question, carbon_unit. It is the fact of dozens if not hundreds of Billy Meier forecasts, predictions and claims have already been validated as fact in the past decades. It takes thus not much imagination to assume that the description over here, paras 151 to 161 will work out as written: http://www.future...port_475

And if you wonder, why NASA could possibly miscalculate things that badly, then look no further than their value assumption regarding the constant pi.

May 08, 2019
And what is your point about NASA's value assumption regarding the constant pi?? Are you claiming they use 3 or something?? If you claim they aren't using pi out to enough decimal places for the given application, how do you know that? This article reports that NASA uses pi to 15 or 16 places for ISS guidance calculations.
https://blogs.sci...ou-need/

Thank you cargon_unit for that very interesting article. This confirms my worry, NASA is indeed heavily relying on the centuries-old mainstream assumptions for pi. So, what if this assumption is simply wrong and the true value = 4/sqrt (phi) = 4.144605512… See over here http://www.future...port_260 para 104 – 107. Or for the later practical experiment: http://measuringp...urement/

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