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.

10 November 2010

Paper: Initial Parameter Study of the Response of Simple Asteroid or Cometary Nuclei Models to a Nuclear Burst

Title: Initial Parameter Study of the Response of Simple Asteroid or Cometary Nuclei
Models to a Nuclear Burst

Authors: P. A. Bradley1, C. S. Plesko1,2, R. P. Weaver1, R. R. C. Clement1, J. A. Guzik1, L. A. Pritchett-Sheets1, and W. F. Huebner3, 1Applied Physics Division, MS T087, Los Alamos National Laboratory (, 2U. C. Santa Cruz Earth and Planetary Sciences Dept., and 3Southwest Research Institute

Abstract: There is much popular press about Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs) and how to mitigate their threat. The two mitigation options are destruction or deflection of the PHO. Presently, the most technically feasible method of deflection is a nuclear stand-off burst [1]. However, many questions remain as to the response of an asteroid or comet to a nuclear burst. Recent increases in computing power and scientific understanding of the physical properties of asteroids and comets make it possible to numerically simulate the response of these porous and inhomogeneous bodies to strong shocks and radiation. Here we use the radiation-hydrocode RAGE to explore the coupling of radiation energy from a nuclear burst to a grid of simplified PHO models. We use simple 2-D axisymmetric models of 100 m diameter spherical PHOs composed of different materials to study their response to nuclear bursts of 10, 100, and 1000 kt with distances of 20 and 70 m.

From paper...

Even with our simplified models, we see that bursts of about 10 kt will be effective in deflecting a 100 m diameter solid PHO away from Earth if the lead time is about 1 to 4 years. Assuming there is no issue with fragmentation, our calculations of a 100 kt burst 20 m from a target PHO show that it is capable of deflecting a PHO with no more than 4 months of lead time. We will need to run similar calculations for PHO models that have a realistic shape, composition, rotation rate, strength, and porosity for ”playbook” entries.

Link: Paper Reference

Link: Paper (PDF)

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