NASA considers building nuclear spacecraft to blow up asteroid

The Hammer mission would take more than seven years to reach a devastating asteroid.
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NASA has revealed its plans to deal with a potential asteroid impact. Above an artist depiction of an asteroid collision.

NASA has revealed its plans to deal with a potential asteroid impact. Above an artist depiction of an asteroid collision.

Is the world prepared if an asteroid measuring almost 500 metres across crashes into Earth? Now thanks to NASA, the world can now breathe a sigh of relief that there are plans to deal with such potential catastrophe.

NASA has revealed its plans to deal with a potential asteroid impact. The US space agency has drawn up plans to build a huge nuclear spacecraft that is capable of deflecting or blowing up dangerous space rocks and safeguarding life on Earth. The spacecraft named Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) is an eight-tonne spaceship which could deflect a giant space rock, if it happens to hit Earth, The Telegraph reported.

The 492 meters or 1,614-foot-wide asteroid Bennu, which is bigger than the Empire State Building.

The 492 meters or 1,614-foot-wide asteroid Bennu, which is bigger than the Empire State Building.

The 492 meters or 1,614-foot-wide asteroid Bennu, which is bigger than the Empire State Building, is circling the sun at 63,000 mph. It is now at a comfortable 54 million miles from Earth. While since 2016, NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission is en route to take samples, in a new paper detailed in the journal Acta Astronautica, experts revealed a crisis response plan and calculated the time and payload it would take to move or destroy asteroid Bennu. For those uninitiated, Bennu is being monitored ever since its discovery in 1999.

According to report, albeit there is little risk it could hit the Earth, it is still considered as an NEO, or Near Earth Object, which would hit the planet with 1,450 megatons of TNT, the report said. Bennu’s impact would release “three times more energy than all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history”, said Dante Lauretta, professor at the University of Arizona. “The impact would release energy equivalent to 1,450 megatons of TNT,” Lauretta said. However, the study showed that Earth would need years of warning to be able to put a deterrent plan in action.

Experts have revealed a crisis response plan and calculated the time and payload it would take to move or destroy asteroid Bennu.

Experts have revealed a crisis response plan and calculated the time and payload it would take to move or destroy asteroid Bennu.

“Smart people are taking this seriously and thinking carefully about what might be done,” Richard Binzel, an impact expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told Buzzfeed US. “These are reasonable ideas — well thought out. “Hopefully we won't need an asteroid deflection plan… But until we search, we don't know.”

NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies now lists 73 asteroids which have a one in 1,600 chance of hitting the Earth, The Telegraph said.