New research reveals how current technology could one day save our planet from a destructive collision with the asteroid Bennu, one of the potentially dangerous Earth objects. The asteroid Bennu is now mostly known for being visited by NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex – the spacecraft is slowly returning to Earth with valuable samples of the material obtained from it. But there is one more truth about Bennu: the asteroid has a one-in-2,700 chance of hitting us on September 25, 2135.
That Sunday morning, Bennu will cross Earth five times closer than the Moon based on current estimates. Uncertainty is still wide enough that it could hit or miss our planet, but it is still there. More than 500 meters (1,640 feet) across Bennu and 1,200 megatons of power will be released as a result. This is the jar bomber yield, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever built and tested. But don’t worry! Even if we discover that the effect is going to happen, that doesn’t mean it is inevitable. Researchers in the United States has previously revealed plans to show an influencer named HAMMER, designed to remove rock from dangerous places. Now, Chinese researchers have published their own plans, it also depends on existing technology.
The work, published in the journal Icarus, focuses on dynamically effective methods for removing an asteroid. A spacecraft crashes into the asteroid and gives off a bit of a lip. With enough time and enough impact, you can move enough asteroids to avoid Earth completely. The proposed system is called the Assembled Kayatik Impactor (AKI) because when the impeller leaves Earth’s orbit instead of detaching from the rocket, the rocket moves forward, increasing the impact. Using the technical data of the Long March 5 (CZ-5) launch vehicle, Bennu’s trajectory can be reflected by 1.4 Earth radii (8,900 km / 5,550 miles) with 23 successful effects of this type of rocket.
With just 10 years of leadership time, it will be enough to change the orbit of the asteroid and save the Earth – and you won’t need any nuclear weapons to accomplish this. Back in 2018, the team estimated that the Chinese method would be a bit more efficient in terms of launches than the hammer.
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