Researchers have proposed a new way of dealing with near-Earth asteroids that threaten our planet.
The proposed method is called "PI," which is an acronym for "Pulverize It." The method basically calls for the use of explosives in order to smash large asteroids into smaller pieces. These explosives can possibly be nuclear in type.
While shattering asteroids does not mean that the smaller pieces can do no damage to Earth, the researchers argue that their damage is "negligible" compared to if the asteroid as a whole hits the planet.
NASA is currently monitoring 8,000 near-Earth asteroids that are wider than 460 feet.
Researchers Propose 'PI' Method
Researchers have proposed a method called PI to defend Earth from the nearby asteroids that threaten it. The proposed method entails using explosives to smash these asteroids.
According to a report by Space, the group of researchers who are proposing this method has posted their paper on the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Experimental Cosmology Group website.
Per the report, PI "aims to smash large, potentially life-threatening asteroids into hundreds of tiny pieces by launching an array of 'penetrator rods' into the asteroid's path."
These penetrator rods could have explosives in them that may even be nuclear to smash asteroids into smaller pieces.
The Space report notes that the researchers acknowledge that the smaller pieces can still cause damage to our planet. However, they argue that "this damage would be negligible compared with the impact of a large asteroid."
The PI method still requires testing to prove that it can work. Fake asteroids will likely be used during ground-based testing.
The Chelyabinsk Meteor Incident
A relatively recent incident of a meteor hitting the surface of the Earth that was mentioned in the Space report is the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) describes the meteor as a "house-sized meteor" that exploded 14 miles above the ground in Chelyabinsk, which is located in Russia, on February 15, 2013.
Per the Space report, the strength of the explosion was equivalent to 30 of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima back in World War II. 1,600 people were injured due to the explosion. Fatalities would have occurred the meteor exploded over a city instead of the broad area it blew up.
Per the Space report, there are around 8,000 near-Earth asteroids that NASA is closely monitoring. These asteroids have diameters that are wider than 460 feet.
In comparison, the Chelyabinsk meteor was only 62 feet in diameter.
According to the website of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, examples of near-Earth asteroids include 1036 Ganymed and 2005 YU55.
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Written by Isabella James