Can Asteroids be destroyed with nukes?

Nukes vs Asteroid

There are so many sci-fi movies where humans Nuke the asteroids in the sky to protect our planet from a devastating collision. But in Reality, new research suggests that is far more difficult and complicated to destroy an asteroid to save humanity.

Scientists observe countless asteroids on a daily basis and there are many asteroids that can hit our planet in the near future. NASA is ready to deal with these type of situations one of the ways to deal with these situations is to change the path of the asteroid by hitting them. NASA is currently planning an asteroid redirect mission where it’ll send a kamikaze spacecraft into the moonlet of an asteroid known as Didymos, this spacecraft will collide with this rock and will alter the path of this asteroid.

Scientists observe the Asteroid but humans never had a lot of opportunities to study asteroids up close, so it is difficult to know their structure and how they can be destroyed. It has been believed that bigger asteroids may be easier to destroy due to huge cracks and weaknesses that make them easy to blow apart. So a question arises, if an asteroid were to threaten our peaceful existence, what should we do?

Charles El Mir the lead author of the study asked a question that “Are we better off breaking it into small pieces or nudging it to go a different direction? Another question that how much force should we hit it with to move it away without causing it to break?”. In order to find the answers to these type of questions he and a team at Johns Hopkins University brainstormed for a long duration and they were able to find some interesting results.

Their findings were published in an issue of the journal Icarus that are based on computer simulations of asteroid impacts. Charles and his team plugged in parameters that digitally recapitulated a small asteroid, about 1 kilometer wide, impacting a large asteroid, about 25 times bigger, while traveling at 5 kilometers per second.

Previous models by Scientists had shown that the large asteroid was obliterated by this type of collision, but the Johns Hopkins team found an entirely different scenario. According to their modeling, the asteroid would be destroyed in the fractions of a second after an impact.

But after some hours after an impact though, the John Hopkins team showed that the large asteroid will break apart into smaller pieces but wasn’t entirely obliterated as previous research had shown. The Different fragments that flew off the asteroid were then pulled back together by the damaged asteroid core, due to the overwhelming effect of gravity.