White House has plans in case of asteroid strike threat

65 million years ago, an asteroid with a diameter of about 10 kilometers hit the Earth, causing the extermination of dinosaurs. What would happen if, in modern times, an asteroid was discovered approaching Earth? What options do we have to avoid a collision? The White House has come out in front of the issue and prepared plans to deal with such cases.

Since man became aware of the threat from objects flying near our planetów, began a feverish search for celestial bodies thatóre would be on a collision course with Earth. Nervously, the search has also begun for a way to avoid a possible collision.

The state of our knowledge of threats from space is increasing. We monitor the sky and have determined the location of many objectsóin, które could threaten our planet in the future. But even so, our observations will give us at most a few weeks of time to act, from when we first spot an object on a collision course with Earth. The problem has been confronted by the White House.

In a document published at the end of 2016, one can read that the strategy’s goal is to „Increasing the readiness of our (American) nation against threats from near-Earth objectsóin (so-called. NEO – Near-Earth Object) by strengthening and integrating existing resourcesóin domestic and international and implement important functions that theórych currently missing”.

Example of the Tunguska disaster

Currently, m.in. thanks to the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), operating under the aegis of NASA, we know most asteroids of a size that could lead to the annihilation of life on Earth. They can be tracked on the web using an online database.

However, there are hundreds or thousands of smaller objectóin, whichóre can cause enormous damage a o któhe existence of which we have no idea. Though one thatóry caused the so-called. Tunguska disaster in 1908 in Siberia. According to current knowledge, it was a facility or several facilitiesóin a diameter of no more than 50 metersów. An explosion completely destroyed a forest in an area of more than 2,000. kilometeróin square. A strong seismic tremor was recorded across the Earth. Fortunately, the incident occurred in an area uninhabited by humans.

Nor was the current monitoring able to warn us of the meteorite in Chelyabinsk, in którym smaller injuries were sustained by about 1,000 peopleób. The object was about 17 metersóin diameter. This shows how unprepared we are for such an encounter.

According to data reported by PDCO, today we know about one percent of the. objectóin the vicinity of our planet similar to those whichóre have caused devastation in Siberia. Geologists every now and then find traces of smaller or larger meteorite impactsów. This proves that such incidents have occurred in the history of our planet much more often than we thought. It is estimated that a collision with an asteroid that could change life on Earth occurs once every 500,000 years or so.

White House strategy

The document published by the US administration is divided into seven mainów other issues. The first mówi about increasing the ability to detect objectóin threatening the Earth. The plan calls for investment in technological solutions thatóre will help improve methods of detecting and tracking potentially dangerous objectsów. We are talking here about NASA’s early warning system – NEA Scout or Minor Planet Center – A project carried out by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

The strategy also involves developing rapid response capabilities. With current technology, it will be easiest for us to change the trajectory of an object hurtling toward us. And it is about this mówi document to develop effective and rapid methods that can helpóc avoid impact. The plan also calls for developing such threat detection technologies to have 100 percent. the certainty of an impending catastrophe.

Another of the goals is to develop procedures thatóre will be implemented in case a threat is detected. There is also talk of developing possible scenarios for upcoming events. Depending on where it is expected to strike, whether in the wilderness, a city or the ocean, rówill be models of how to proceed. Plans are also to be developed to help the affected areaów.

In the document we can also read that it is important to support theóinternational cooperation. In the case of a threat from space, we will realize how unimportant national borders are. This stage involves deepening the wspóinterstate cooperation in planetary defense.

The last issue concerns the creation of appropriate communication paths and the establishment of offices for coordinating work in case of an emergency. There is also talk of ways to communicate such messages to the public.

Nuclear impact or landing on an asteroid?

And while the White House has finally taken care of its sheep, scientists have been working on the topic for years. They have developed a number of plansóin and mannerów to avoid danger. Here are some of the most interesting.

Fighting the threat from asteroids boils down to changing the object’s trajectory. However, planned methods to avoid collisions róThey differ from the type and form of the celestial body. For example, hitting a pile of space debris held together by gravity and electrostatic forces with an explosive charge could be counterproductive, as it would only increase the field of fire with smaller debris. Therefore, rótional types require róThe effect would be similar to blowing off a chain object.

In the case of the space debris described above, the best way, according to scientistsóin which hitting the object with a cloud of smart particles ejected from the spacecraft would work out. The effect would be similar to blowing off a chain objectóInto a different trajectory. However, this is only a concept.

Some of the methods being developed are based on g techniquesórnicze and engineering methods used on Earth for hundreds of years. NASA researchers, to simulate space conditions as closely as possible, are conducting experiments aboard aircraftóin performing parabolic flights, in which theórych state of weightlessness is achieved. Atmospheric conditions change thanks to pr chamberóthrust chamber. A material was also developed to mimic the rótion of different celestial bodies in order to test g tools on itórnicze.

The concept of landing on an asteroid, known from the movie Armageddon, is also taken into account. The lander mówould drill into the depths of the object and precisely deploy explosive charges that wouldóre would tear the threatening object into smaller ones with the desired trajectory.

The most likely scenario is the use of nuclear warheads. In 1995, at a meeting of Cold War designersóThe weapon proposed the concept of a nuclear charge, whichóry would be capable of vaporizing an object one kilometer in diameter in the blink of an eye. However, no such weapon has ever been built.

Tractor ideas also emergedóin gravitational or solar sails, whichóre attached to the asteroid would change its trajectory. However, all collision avoidance techniques are contingent on the time we will have from detection of a possible threat to collision. Of course, the size, structure and form of the object also matter, but survival depends on time. When it runs out, what remains is the evacuation of selected units into space or deep sheltersóin underground.