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(CBS San Francisco)   A nuclear blast to use against an earth-killing asteroid strike? You just know we want to go all Armageddon on one   (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, Nuclear weapon, much energy, earth-threatening asteroid, Neutron, Asteroid, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Horan IV, smaller amount of energy  
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299 clicks; posted to STEM » on 12 Apr 2021 at 9:08 PM (4 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-04-12 9:31:45 PM  
Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.
 
2021-04-12 9:37:00 PM  

tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.


A nuclear detonation in the vacuum of space produces virtually no blast or thermal radiation--but a metric farkload of ionizing radiation that's lethal at 50-100x the range of a detonation on the ground.  Besides radiation, all the effects of a blast are the result of how it interacts with the atmosphere.

At least your idea wouldn't produce a ton of radioactive debris that still hits.
 
2021-04-12 9:41:29 PM  

Insult Comic Bishounen: tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.

A nuclear detonation in the vacuum of space produces virtually no blast or thermal radiation--but a metric farkload of ionizing radiation that's lethal at 50-100x the range of a detonation on the ground.  Besides radiation, all the effects of a blast are the result of how it interacts with the atmosphere.

At least your idea wouldn't produce a ton of radioactive debris that still hits.


Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-04-12 10:10:37 PM  
Deflection is the gentler approach that involves imparting a smaller amount of energy to the asteroid, keeping the object intact, and pushing it onto a slightly different orbit with a slightly changed speed.

The issue I see with this approach is you let the asteroid live and it might come back to bite you in the ass. If you were in a zombie apocalypse and encountered a zombie, would you destroy the brain or avoid any contact with it and go about your day? I'd destroy it. If you let it exist and it bites someone, you are the dumb fark who killed that person. Now imagine that instead of a zombie it's an asteroid. Imagine it passes Earth but is caught by the gravity of another planet and boomerangs back to Earth except even faster and on a path for a center mass hit.

It's best to kill it ASAP.
 
2021-04-12 10:35:44 PM  
Has to be a contact initiation to get significant thrust, and at the correct angle to deflect it. Just slowing one would do the trick, takes Earth out of its trajectory. But for a near-term threat it's the only realistic solution. There are other methods but really only effective against a predicted strike a decade or more away.

Getting there in time is the trick. An unmanned Orion drive missile is probably our only realistic option in the near future too. Lots of nukes.
 
2021-04-12 11:18:38 PM  
I suppose up to a couple miles around using a nuke would work if you could directly impact the asteroid. It's not just the asteroid hitting Earth that does the damage.. it's the asteroid hitting all at once and delivering all that energy in a near instant. Blowing up an asteroid into a bunch of spread out pieces that hit over a longer period of time would definitely be better.
 
2021-04-12 11:32:45 PM  
Def Leppard - Armageddon It
Youtube 7jTGVx2ATLI
 
2021-04-12 11:40:03 PM  
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, 13 years ago, Part Ⅰ:
Neil DeGrasse Tyson - Death By Giant Meteor
Youtube xaW4Ol3_M1o
 
2021-04-12 11:45:08 PM  
Part Ⅱ with one of the funniest off-the-cuff responses to someone in a tech talk I've ever heard:
Neil DeGrasse Tyson - How to Deflect a Killer Asteroid
Youtube 1-ReuLZ2quc
 
2021-04-12 11:46:00 PM  

tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.


What you want to do is find some way to propel it sideways. You're not going to change anything hitting it head on. You have to adjust it's orbit away from Earth's orbit and it would likely need to be at least a few months out from impact.
 
2021-04-13 12:25:35 AM  

tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.


I don't think, "thermo-nuclear propellent" is a thing.

You'd also need to get the bomb into the center of the rock or you're just going to create a butt load of radiation. So asteroid buster.
 
2021-04-13 2:06:46 AM  

ajgeek: tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.

I don't think, "thermo-nuclear propellent" is a thing.

You'd also need to get the bomb into the center of the rock or you're just going to create a butt load of radiation. So asteroid buster.


Project Orion had some thinking around that subject. I'd like to have a bunch of options on the table if we needed them. We just can't test those things without the political will of the whole world.

I know some people want to use it as a means of propulsion to get us to other stars, and I'm not disagreeing, I'm just saying that local defense might be a good test bed to figure out out.
 
2021-04-13 6:32:46 AM  

Birnone: Deflection is the gentler approach that involves imparting a smaller amount of energy to the asteroid, keeping the object intact, and pushing it onto a slightly different orbit with a slightly changed speed.

The issue I see with this approach is you let the asteroid live and it might come back to bite you in the ass. If you were in a zombie apocalypse and encountered a zombie, would you destroy the brain or avoid any contact with it and go about your day? I'd destroy it. If you let it exist and it bites someone, you are the dumb fark who killed that person. Now imagine that instead of a zombie it's an asteroid. Imagine it passes Earth but is caught by the gravity of another planet and boomerangs back to Earth except even faster and on a path for a center mass hit.

It's best to kill it ASAP.


The nudge wouldn't be chosen at random, nor would we just forget about it after it passed
 
2021-04-13 5:34:58 PM  

tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.


You're better off throwing the bomb at it so long as your fusing system is good enough to ensure it detonates before being destroyed by the impact.  Also, when you throw the bomb it can have terminal guidance.  A god rod in space has no maneuvering capability at all.

Boojum2k: Has to be a contact initiation to get significant thrust, and at the correct angle to deflect it. Just slowing one would do the trick, takes Earth out of its trajectory. But for a near-term threat it's the only realistic solution. There are other methods but really only effective against a predicted strike a decade or more away.

Getting there in time is the trick. An unmanned Orion drive missile is probably our only realistic option in the near future too. Lots of nukes.


Actually, no--for deflection you want a shaped charge and a bit of standoff range.  The idea is to vaporize material over a wide area (Newton's third law at work) rather than a heavy punch at one point.  Hit it too hard and you risk breaking it up but not scattering it far enough and actually increasing the damage in the process.  Disruption is a last-ditch measure for a smaller rock you can't deflect.  (And against a city-killer you could use a modified ICBM.  All it needs is a seeker and a fuse that can set it off properly.  Head straight out, contact detonation.  Yes, some hot stuff rains down but it's not as bad as an aboveground test and if you save a city in the process it's well worth it.  None of the changes would prevent the ICBM from working normally, they ought to be looking into giving them a point defense mode.)

mrlewish: I suppose up to a couple miles around using a nuke would work if you could directly impact the asteroid. It's not just the asteroid hitting Earth that does the damage.. it's the asteroid hitting all at once and delivering all that energy in a near instant. Blowing up an asteroid into a bunch of spread out pieces that hit over a longer period of time would definitely be better.


If you could blow it to gravel, yes.  But if you blow it into chunks you made the problem worse.

RedVentrue: tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.

What you want to do is find some way to propel it sideways. You're not going to change anything hitting it head on. You have to adjust it's orbit away from Earth's orbit and it would likely need to be at least a few months out from impact.


1)  Nothing says you can't set off your bomb as it's flying past.  We already have torpedoes that deliberately run under the target and we have anti-tank missiles that deliberately run over the target.  A nuke that runs beside the target would not be anything radical.

2)  Head on very well might be the best answer.  Deflection in time works as well as deflection in space--if you slow it down enough it will pass behind the Earth.

ajgeek: tuxq: Recalling the manhole cover in orbit nuclear test, I'm surprised a nuclear-blast accelerated kinetic impact isn't in the table. Take the Rods of God principle with a thermonuclear propellant instead of gravity. An asteroid approaching at 11km/s getting hit with a tungsten telephone pole or cone (to act as a wedge) going at ludicrous speed would be a fun test.

I don't think, "thermo-nuclear propellent" is a thing.

You'd also need to get the bomb into the center of the rock or you're just going to create a butt load of radiation. So asteroid buster.


Project Orion was based upon that butt load of radiation.
 
2021-04-13 9:10:50 PM  

Loren: 1)  Nothing says you can't set off your bomb as it's flying past.  We already have torpedoes that deliberately run under the target and we have anti-tank missiles that deliberately run over the target.  A nuke that runs beside the target would not be anything radical.

2)  Head on very well might be the best answer.  Deflection in time works as well as deflection in space--if you slow it down enough it will pass behind the Earth.


Depends on the mass/ density of the target. If it's nickel/iron you could maybe get away with a head on hit and not turn it into shrapnel. If it's a carbonaceous chondrite bolide then you're just as likely to turn one big slug into birdshot that hits with the same overall mass and velocity. If it's a good sized dirty snowball, then were screwed at that point. Welcome to the K-T.
 
2021-04-14 12:00:00 AM  

RedVentrue: Loren: 1)  Nothing says you can't set off your bomb as it's flying past.  We already have torpedoes that deliberately run under the target and we have anti-tank missiles that deliberately run over the target.  A nuke that runs beside the target would not be anything radical.

2)  Head on very well might be the best answer.  Deflection in time works as well as deflection in space--if you slow it down enough it will pass behind the Earth.

Depends on the mass/ density of the target. If it's nickel/iron you could maybe get away with a head on hit and not turn it into shrapnel. If it's a carbonaceous chondrite bolide then you're just as likely to turn one big slug into birdshot that hits with the same overall mass and velocity. If it's a good sized dirty snowball, then were screwed at that point. Welcome to the K-T.


Use a small enough bomb that you don't accelerate more than local escape velocity and wait some hours between bombs to let the debris settle back.  You can Orion a gravel pile if you do it gently enough.
 
2021-04-14 1:16:24 AM  

Loren: RedVentrue: Loren: 1)  Nothing says you can't set off your bomb as it's flying past.  We already have torpedoes that deliberately run under the target and we have anti-tank missiles that deliberately run over the target.  A nuke that runs beside the target would not be anything radical.

2)  Head on very well might be the best answer.  Deflection in time works as well as deflection in space--if you slow it down enough it will pass behind the Earth.

Depends on the mass/ density of the target. If it's nickel/iron you could maybe get away with a head on hit and not turn it into shrapnel. If it's a carbonaceous chondrite bolide then you're just as likely to turn one big slug into birdshot that hits with the same overall mass and velocity. If it's a good sized dirty snowball, then were screwed at that point. Welcome to the K-T.

Use a small enough bomb that you don't accelerate more than local escape velocity and wait some hours between bombs to let the debris settle back.  You can Orion a gravel pile if you do it gently enough.


That would be useful.
 
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