This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

17 October 2008

Paper on conventional explosive deflection of NEOs

Paper on conventional explosive mitigation of NEOs. This paper reflects some elements that were incorporated into a recent NASA NEO Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) report.

"Near-Earth object deflection using conventional explosives"
J.D. Walker and S. Chocron
International Journal of Impact Engineering (Article in Press)
Available online 5 August 2008

Due to the large number and distribution of asteroids and comets in the solar system, there is the distinct possibility of one of them striking Earth just as comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck Jupiter. A debate is ongoing in the scientific community as to how best to divert such a threat. In 2005 NASA was directed by Congress to provide a report on the detection of near-Earth objects (NEOs) and their mitigation if determined to be a threat. The report was delivered in March 2007; as input to that report, the work reported here provided information on conventional methods to divert a potentially hazardous object (PHO) including conventional explosives and direct impact with a rocket. Other slow push conventional approaches include propulsion systems attached to the asteroid or comet and the recently proposed gravitational tractor. Advantages of conventional explosives are that they can be delivered in small packages so that the asteroid or comet is in no danger of being broken up and it is possible to accurately compute the momentum transferred to the asteroid or comet through modern validated numerical techniques. This work demonstrates that conventional explosives can be an efficient conventional method to divert an asteroid or comet and computes the amounts of explosives needed.

Link: ScienceDirect Paper

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