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Space Books Earth Education Science

Scientists Propose Using Cold War Era Weapons To Deflect Asteroids (blastingnews.com) 114

MarkWhittington writes: Many people are considering what to do if an asteroid was headed for a collision with Earth. One such collision wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Now, films such as "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" depict what might happen if Earth were threatened with a similar event in modern times. As a result, some people are repurposing weapons that were built or envisioned during the Cold War to confront the celestial threat, from old ICBMs to space-based laser systems.
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Scientists Propose Using Cold War Era Weapons To Deflect Asteroids

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  • by YutakaFrog ( 1074731 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @03:47AM (#51525881)
    Yeah, if by "now" you mean 18 years ago...
    • Scientists. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @07:40AM (#51526375) Homepage

      "Scientists" should understand the difference between the low earth orbit that an ICBM can almost achieve versus intercepting an object in deep space. Deflect an asteroid a fraction of a degree when it's still a month away and it's certain to miss the planet. When the same asteroid is in range of an ICBM, it's far far too late to do anything.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        So pretty much if you seriously want to do anything about it, you have to be up on the moon. Not only to find them far enough away but to 6 times more effectively launch them. Especially is you launched them via a steam cannon with variable acceleration for the first stage and rocket only for final guidance. Of course you could do the same from earth the barrel would just need to be quite a few kilometres long, with an outlet as high as practicable and you would not get as much warning. Better to use that

      • "Scientists" should understand the difference between the low earth orbit that an ICBM can almost achieve versus intercepting an object in deep space.

        Actually, "scientists" may not be talking about ICBMs at all (despite the article first claiming so), because when it goes to the vague details of the plan there's suddenly an additional word: "The Russians would like to test their ICBM defense system on 99942 Apophis ..."

      • Not only that most asteroids are significantly faster than a missile, so the trajectory of both needs to be spot on. Space lasers might be an option. Would be nice to see that there is finally a use for all the stuff Reagan wasted billions on.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah shoot some ICBMs at em, we certainly need more fucking orbital debris.

  • Meteor (1979) (Score:4, Informative)

    by arobatino ( 46791 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @04:16AM (#51525949)

    Meteor (1979) [imdb.com]

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@earth[ ]k.net ['lin' in gap]> on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @04:21AM (#51525961)

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • What could possibly go wrong?

      The universal excuse for doing nothing about a given problem. But...having an asteroid aiming for us would tend to concentrate the collective mind.

  • " One such collision wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. "
    this is not science. that is a hypothesis. a good one but nothing more so far.

    "films such as "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" depict what might happen ..."
    really? mediocre movies are the way to model future?

    too much of such propaganda and hype may lead to bad decisions that will make bad use of scarce resources.
    resources better used on more real problems that results in real tragedy, every day right now. for instance, there are millions with

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Hypotheses are specific predictions. The idea that an asteroid had a big part in killing the dinosaurs is the theory, and so far it's the one that checks out the best, via the hypotheses it generates.

      • it is not established science, and certainly not a sound basis for making decisions resulting in use of lot of resources which can be used for other better things that have no such problems of authenticity

  • This shit again? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @04:39AM (#51526021) Homepage Journal

    Wasn't it already figured out that trying to blow nukes off on an asteroid surface would achieve approximately JACK SHIT?

    They're not sufficiently powerful to break up mass, and due to being nuked in space, the kinetic transfer is significantly less, therefore "deflection" wouldn't happen either.

    And flying up and digging in a bunch of nukes isn't ever going to happen for a host of reasons...

    So why, all of the sudden, are we digging up a bunch of brain-dead movie fodder that we already know won't work?

    A new generation of people whose ability to reason has been compromised by mass media?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So why, all of the sudden, are we digging up a bunch of brain-dead movie fodder that we already know won't work?

      Because there is a strong belief in the US that nukes solves every problem.
      Also, we like explosions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I thought it was generally accepted that painting an asteroid [space.com] would be a good way to deflect it to a safe distance. It makes a whole lot more sense than using a nuclear weapon.

      • by rossdee ( 243626 )

        The problem is that asteroids are usually rotating.. Painting one side so it reflects the suns rays more isn't going to do anything.
        The same thing applies to going up there and sticking a rocket motor on it. Although at least with a rocket morot you could turn it on only when its facing the right way.

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          You could paint the whole asteroid and only the sunward side would be affected. That would produce asymmetric thrust that would change the orbit.

    • by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 @05:40AM (#51526153)

      Wasn't it already figured out that trying to blow nukes off on an asteroid surface would achieve approximately JACK SHIT?

      So why, all of the sudden, are we digging up a bunch of brain-dead movie fodder that we already know won't work?

      So that we can modernize our weapons to have something positioned against the late growth in military power of both Russia and China without seeming overly aggressive in the hope of not further escalating global tensions, perhaps?

    • Maybe some good can come from this. Let the idiots spout off solutions that won't work so that the people that have the knowledge and intelligence to see how this can fail can argue for something that will work. Sort of following the idea that "there is no such thing as bad publicity" that people follow in politics and popular culture.

      If we can get people to think that firing rockets carrying radioactive materials is something that might be considered acceptable then perhaps we could do something that mig

    • You're being overly negative.
      Until Red Dawn nobody could imagine what would happen if North Korea invaded the US.
      If an asteroid is on our path I'm sure as hell going to vote on Eastwood to blast it away.
      We'd have Chuck Norris as a backup.
      Just stop crying already, I told you: don't watch adult movies!
    • And flying up and digging in a bunch of nukes isn't ever going to happen for a host of reasons...

      Well, sure, the modified orbiter needed to be more robust, and some retro-thrusters on the Armadillos would have prevented them being blown into space, but overall it worked out fine, and Bruce would have even made it back if not for a bit of bad luck with the auto-detonator.

    • Wasn't it already figured out that trying to blow nukes off on an asteroid surface would achieve approximately JACK SHIT?

      They're not sufficiently powerful to break up mass, and due to being nuked in space, the kinetic transfer is significantly less, therefore "deflection" wouldn't happen either.

      Well you figured that out pretty quickly. Obviously you plotted out your formula out proving its impossibility on the back of a paper napkin, right? Can you show your math before you start discrediting your fellow scientists on this idea? You can figure this out on a napkin if you want to using the formula below as a starting point and then estimating the mass, velocity, and kinetic energy of an incoming asteroid. You could calculate how much kinetic energy is needed to deflect an asteroid.

      It has been

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      Wasn't it already figured out that trying to blow nukes off on an asteroid surface would achieve approximately JACK SHIT?

      They're not sufficiently powerful to break up mass, and due to being nuked in space, the kinetic transfer is significantly less, therefore "deflection" wouldn't happen either.

      And flying up and digging in a bunch of nukes isn't ever going to happen for a host of reasons...

      So why, all of the sudden, are we digging up a bunch of brain-dead movie fodder that we already know won't work?

      A new generation of people whose ability to reason has been compromised by mass media?

      The US is subtly sabre-rattling against China and Russia.

    • So why, all of the sudden, are we digging up a bunch of brain-dead movie fodder that we already know won't work?

      To provide a justification for nuclear disarmament by appropriating nuclear weapons for asteroid defense.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      Wasn't it already figured out that trying to blow nukes off on an asteroid surface would achieve approximately JACK SHIT?

      They're not sufficiently powerful to break up mass, and due to being nuked in space, the kinetic transfer is significantly less, therefore "deflection" wouldn't happen either.

      And flying up and digging in a bunch of nukes isn't ever going to happen for a host of reasons...

      So why, all of the sudden, are we digging up a bunch of brain-dead movie fodder that we already know won't work?

      A new generation of people whose ability to reason has been compromised by mass media?

      The real answer is that it depends on the particular circumstances... The composition of the asteroid, the time to impact, the yield of the nuclear weapon(s). As far as I am aware the simulations have shown different outcomes depending on the scenario. In general if you have enough warning you can use something other than nuclear weapons. But with less warning you will probably need to use a nuclear weapon or many nuclear weapons.

      So the bottom line is that there is no general conclusion you can make ab

    • Wasn't it already figured out that trying to blow nukes off on an asteroid surface would achieve approximately JACK SHIT?

      They're not sufficiently powerful to break up mass, and due to being nuked in space, the kinetic transfer is significantly less, therefore "deflection" wouldn't happen either.

      No they didn't. Yes it would. They have done research and while there is a better way, that is not what they found. All that kenetic transfer you are looking for would be from things vaporizing from the release of x-rays and other high energy EM radiation. In lack of an atmosphere, the same such rays would vaporize the surface of the asteroid and be ejected from it like rocket exhaust. If they could bury it somewhat in the asteroid, that would work better for trasnfer of energy and directionality of the res

    • Nukes, especially two stage nukes, are heavy emitters of X-ray light. Detonating the nuke at an appropriate distance allows the nuke to heat the surface matter of the object which blows off and acts as reaction mass. The efficiency of this coupling can also be improved via some design tricks for the device itself or by cratering the object with a kinetic impactor first then timing the detonation so it's directly over the resultant "rocket nozzle" on the object's surface.

  • Chieftain tanks? Vulcan bombers? They won't work.

  • The meteor impact will cause a nuclear winter that will cancel out the global warming.

  • The last time someone was serious about defending the Earth, nobody cared enough to pay for it [indiegogo.com].
  • What this thread is missing is "time to call Bruce Willis" comment. OK, blowing up a threatening asteroid is common movie plot and pretty much all are great entertainment (I enjoy watching Armageddon, "I don't care if they are physically perfect, can they survive a space launch?" Physician: "I don't understand how they even survived the tests!").

    An ICBM is an impressive weapon. Launch vehicle with huge flame and lots of smoke, screams through the lower atmosphere at incredible high Q. Vaults halfway aroun

  • In the last few years this asteroid-doomsday-talk really took off.

    Sure there is a risk, but maybe not higher than a worldwide pandemic, a nuclear war, or Odin sending a flood.
    - Or do THEY know something? Like, that the risk suddenly got higher by something WE did...??!!

    That's when it dawned on me:
    It is the outer planets that protect us from space debris. And Neil DegrasseTyson removed Pluto!

  • This post is spam, links to the "real" article that true to get you to "answer a survey question" to actually read it. Nice going slashdump.

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