3 Ways to Defeat Killer Asteroids

Matthew Cross outlines three ways to defeat killer asteroids to save Earth; Pound it, Push it, or Pull it.

In the novel ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere the characters attempt to use one of these methods to stop an Earth ending asteroid.

Read ASTEEROIDS to see how that works out for them!

BY MATTHEW CROSSNOVEMBER 16, 2020SPACE

If astronomers found a large asteroid headed towards Earth, could we defeat it before it smacked into our atmosphere, raining down fire and destruction?

Astronomers, physicists and engineers have been watching for “planet-killing” asteroids and other space bodies and making plans for decades. I just finished reading the Space column in my November/December issue of Popular Mechanics by Jennifer Leman, titled “Could a Cosmic Lasso Divert Extinction-Level Asteroids?”

It’s a good read and I recommend you check it out. In the meantime, I was thinking of the 3 basic ways to defeat an asteroid, which can be found in discussions with scientists and also in Sci Fi film and literature: pound it, push it, or pull it.

1) Pound it

That’s right, pound the asteroid with missiles, nukes, bombs, whatever! Throw everything we have at it. Blow it up! So simple and easy, a 5-year-old could figure it out.

That is possible, but a “blown up” giant asteroid can be as dangerous, sometimes more dangerous, than an intact one. Consider a Mack truck rushing towards you at 100 miles per hour. If it hits you, you’re a pancake. But if I disassemble that Mack truck into its thousands of metal and plastic pieces, put them on a cart, and shove them at you at 100 miles per hour, the pieces are just as dangerous as the fully assembled Mack truck.

The point is that “blowing up” an asteroid does not change the overall mass of ice and rock. Unless the explosion threw most of that mass off its course with Earth, it would still be a devastating blow for life on Earth whether the asteroid was one solid piece, hundreds of one-ton pieces, or even a massive cloud of dust. In fact, sometimes pieces are worse.

Here’s what Jennifer Leman says on this topic in her Popular Mechanics piece:

“It’s risky to Hulk-smash an Earth-bound, extinction-level asteroid, though. ‘In general, when we move an asteroid, we want to keep it in one piece,’ says planetary astronomer . . . Andrew Rivkin, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The rock could break apart and create a wave of several smaller ‘city-killing’ asteroids instead.’ (This risk also applies to an Armageddon-style nuclear solution, we’re told–there are no plans to test a space nuke at this time.)”

Dust is also a problem.

According to killerasteroids.org, “to lead to a global catastrophe, an asteroid or comet only has to be big enough to launch large amounts of dust into the atmosphere. That leads to the abrupt change in climate that wipes out species.”

If an intact asteroid enters the atmosphere as one giant mass, hits the ground, and releases a giant cloud of dust, it’s bad.

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Is Young Blood a Fountain of Youth?

In the novel ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere, Colonel Cruikshank visits “The Spa” for special treatments. The colonels treatment involves a procedure known as parabiosis in which the blood of young boys is exchanged for his old blood. In the book, the process provides amazing results for old Colonel Cruikshank. He looks and feels years younger. His hair becomes fuller and his skin becomes supple. The process leaves his young subjects feeling drained and weak.

You’ll have to read the book to learn how the boy’s from the gymnasium get their revenge.

While the novel is fiction, the idea that young blood can rejuvenate ageing people is real.

In the early 2000s a group of scientists at Stanford University, California, revived a grisly procedure used in the 1950s known as parabiosis. They paired living mice, young with old, peeled back their skin and stitched together their sides so the two animals shared the same blood circulatory system. A month later, they found signs of rejuvenation in the muscles and livers of the old mice. The findings, published in 2005, turned the minds of scientists, entrepreneurs and the public to the potential of young blood to rejuvenate ageing people. By 2016, enough interest had grown to prompt a US-based startup called Ambrosia to start offering pricey infusions of young plasma – the cell-free component of blood. 

Meanwhile, a clutch of scientific startups are trying to discover the secrets of parabiosis and use them to tackle age-related disease. By identifying factors in plasma that change with age, they aim to create therapies that either supplement what’s beneficial in young blood or to inhibit what’s detrimental in old. One is even beginning to report early clinical trial results.

“There’s still a long way to go – blood is complicated,” says Aubrey de Grey, who leads the nonprofit Sens (strategies for engineered negligible senescence) Research Foundation. “But there are many excellent labs focused on this, so I am optimistic about progress.”

Source: The Guardian

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NASA’s Project DART

I have been on several radio talk shows recently discussing the threat that asteroids pose to Earth.

People always ask how we can protect ourselves against an impending asteroid impact.

The honest answer today is that we can’t. So, if there’s a large asteroid heading our way soon, kiss your ass goodbye.

We have no device or technology ready for launch to defend Earth against an asteroid.

We are in the infancy of Planetary Defense.

The first mission to test the concept of using a high velocity impactor to nudge an asteroid into a different orbit is call DART.

DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. DART is planned for launch in July 2021 and will intercept Didymos B or Didymoon in late September 2022.

Didymoon is a small moonlet about 550 ft in diameter that orbits around a larger asteroid called Didymos which is 2,550 ft. in diameter.

DART will not blow up or destroy Didymoon. The hope is that the DART impactor will change the speed of moonlet’s orbit around the larger asteroid by a fraction of a percent.

This will change the orbital period of the moonlet by several minutes – enough to be observed and measured.

Watch the video to learn about DART from the people running the mission:

Learn more about DART

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Asteroids Size Comparison

A new animation created by Alvaro Montoya provides a terrifying look at some notable asteroids in our solar system.

Hang on to your hats – Apophis will make a close call with Earth on Friday the 13th 2029 skimming our atmosphere just 18,000 miles up. Keep in mind that telecom satellites orbit 22,0000 miles up.

The B612 Foundation concluded in 2018 that it’s “100 percent certain we’ll be hit, but we’re not 100 percent sure when.”

That same year, Stephen Hawking wrote in his last book ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ that asteroids are the biggest threat to Earth.

A JPL mission named, DAWN visited Vesta in 2011 and began orbiting Ceres in 2015, the largest dwarf planet in the Asteroid Belt. DAWN was the first spacecraft to orbit one object, then travel to and orbit a second object.

Asteroids are scary, yet amazing.

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Coast to Coast AM – Interview Questions

Below are the notes I wrote and submitted to Coast to Coast AM and George Noory for my radio interview, February 12th, 2019.

I’m not sure if George read all this but writing the notes and reviewing them helped me prepare for the show.

I had most of the pages spread out in front of me during the show for quick reference, but in the end, I was able to respond to George without looing at my cheat sheet!

Book Overview

ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere is a fun yet frightening adventure that takes place during an asteroid storm that occurs every night. A rouge group inside the government knew the asteroid storm was headed for Earth and worked very hard to keep it a secret, even from the rest of the government. Since world destruction is assured, their leader believes it is better to keep the populace ignorant while preparing underground cities for his ‘Few and Fortunate.’

Rick Munday, an astrophysicist from Cal tech, unwittingly gets involved in this conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of our government. He battles the rogue forces who attempt to thwart his efforts to save people from the storms and his quest to reach his family, beyond the Bridge to Nowhere.

ASTEROIDS takes place in the near future and includes lots of technology that is almost here. I tend to call this science faction instead of science fiction because the reader can Google much of the tech to learn more. The story features technologies that are currently being researched or are in development today but are not available as products. In the future these technologies are everyday consumer products fully embedded in the characters’ lives.

The places are real.  There really is a Bridge to Nowhere. Burwell, Nebraska is a real place. The location of New Arcadia is an empty field, today. The location of Salvation in the Mojave Desert is a real place.

The asteroid impacts are real. I used Purdue’s Impact Earth website to create realistic impact craters. Harpoon is an asteroid smasher that is a real NASA concept. I spent hundreds of hours researching asteroids and technology and worked with maps to make everything is as real and accurate as possible.

ASTEROIDS is an exciting adventure that includes conspiracy theories like government coverups and underground cities including the city of New Zion under the Denver airport. Six cities are connected by underground high-speed rail, but the story has many layers and asks moral and ethical questions:


Can we trust the Government?

How would the government react if they knew the world was going to be destroyed by asteroids?

– Would they warn the world?

– Would they keep it secret?

– Would they plan to save only themselves?

How do you decide who survives and who dies?

– What happens when a small group of people have a secure place to live during the storm but adding more people threaten the lives of everyone? Do you let more people in?

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When will we have VUE Lens?

!-SPOILER ALERT-!

In the book ASTEROIDS – Bridge to Nowhere several characters use a device I named VUE Lens.

This is a great of example of technology in development today, but not ready for everyday use by the mass market.

In the book, VUE Lens are a common everyday product most people can afford to use like glasses as their primary interface to access the internet.

Characters use VUE Lens for Virtual Reality(VR) and Augmented Reality(AR) applications.

The characters in the book use hand motions and finger presses in mid-air to control their Lens.

The young boy Ethan uses his VUE Lens to play games. His sister users her Lens to take part in a group video chat session, while the Secretary of Interior Jerome Hargrove III, is addicted to his VUE Lens using them for quick, sometimes frantic searches.

Microsoft Hololens


I created and wrote about VUE Lens in 2014, before Microsoft introduced a similar concept called HoloLens in January 2015. For several months after the launch of Hololens, developers could only purchase the device.

Microsoft has now announced Hololens 2 – you can Pre-order a set for only $3,500 USD. This is better, but still far from being an affordable, everyday consumer device.

Magic Leap one

Another product in development is the Magic Leap One. These things look Spacey! The Magic Leap announced the Magic Leap One Dec. 20, 2017 after years of development in secrecy and more than $2 Billion in funding.

The Magic Leap One design is closer to what I envisioned for VUE Lens, but I imagined them as lighter and less bulky. You can order your very own pair of Leap One for only $2,295.00

That’s more than twice the price of the top end iPhone.

APPLE Glasses

Rumored has it that Apple is developing glasses that will interface with an iPhone.

The glasses would enable Augmented Reality applications (AR) and rumor has it they will ship by the second quarter of 2020.

Apple keeps a tight lid on unannounced products, so we will have to wait for more leaks or news from Apple before we have more details.

 

Because ASTEROIDS takes place in the near future, my aim was to present the reader with technology that would be available not too far in the distant future.

I didn’t focus on hard science fiction but coined the term “science-faction” because I included technologies just out of reach from users today.

I thought it might be fun and intriguing for users to google the products and technologies to learn more and maybe get more people interested in science and technology.

We will have to wait and see when an affordable consumer product like VUE Lens makes it to market. I guess that will be someday in our futures.

 

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We’ve been hit before! It will happen again!

Asteroid impact on Earth

Our Earth, the planet we call home feels safe and cozy, but it hasn’t always been that way and chances are that someday another large asteroid will impact Earth.

Here is a list of Famous Craters around Earth – the results of previous collisions between Earth and Asteroids.

You can click on the “Calculate Impact Effects” links below and use Purdue’s Impact:Earth! to calculate the effects of these famous asteroid impacts.

Take a look at the Tunguska Fireball below. On June 30th, 1908 an asteroid 60 meters (196 ft.) in diameter is believed to have exploded in the atmosphere. The explosion flattened trees in the forests up to 700 miles away. Imagine if that asteroid had stayed aloft for a second or two longer before exploding. Cities like Paris or London would have been wiped off the map. (check the Wikipedia entry)

Famous Craters

  • Meteor Crater, USA Projectile Diameter: 40 m
    Projectile Density: iron (8000 kg/m3)
    Impact Velocity: 20 km/s
    Impact Angle: 45 degrees
    Target Type: Sedimentary Rock
    Calculate Impact Effects
  • Tunguska Fireball, Siberia 1908 Projectile Diameter: 60 m
    Projectile Density: rock (2700 kg/m3)
    Impact Velocity: 20 km/s
    Impact Angle: 45 degrees
    Target Type: Sedimentary Rock
    Calculate Impact Effects
  • Ries Crater, Germany Projectile Diameter: 1500 m
    Projectile Density: rock (2700 kg/m3)
    Impact Velocity: 20 km/s
    Impact Angle: 30 degrees
    Target Type: Crystalline Rock
    Calculate Impact Effects
  • Chesapeake Bay, USA Projectile Diameter: 2300 m
    Projectile Density: rock (2700 kg/m3)
    Impact Velocity: 20 km/s
    Impact Angle: 45 degrees
    Target Type: Water, depth 300 m
    Calculate Impact Effects
  • Chicxulub, Mexico Projectile Diameter: 17500 m
    Projectile Density: rock (2700 kg/m3)
    Impact Velocity: 20 km/s
    Impact Angle: 45 degrees
    Target Type: Water, depth 100 m
    Calculate Impact Effects

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The Meteor Impacts and Craters in ASTEROIDS are real

That’s right! The meteor impacts and craters described in ASTEROIDS were created with an asteroid impact simulator called Impact:Earth! developed by Purdue University.

Purdue’s Impact:Earth! lets users input parameters such as the asteroids diameter, density, impact angle, impact velocity and the composition of the impact location then generate the results.

I used Impact: Earth! to create several of the impact craters in ASTEROIDS.

You can visit Impact:Earth! to create your own Earth destructing asteroid impact.

Below are the results of the meteor impact I used for the destruction of downtown Perth, Australia.

Earth Impact Effects Program

Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh, and Gareth Collins

Please note: the results below are estimates based on current (limited) understanding of the impact process and come with large uncertainties; they should be used with caution, particularly in the case of peculiar input parameters. All values are given to three significant figures but this does not reflect the precision of the estimate. For more information about the uncertainty associated with our calculations and a full discussion of this program, please refer to this article

Your Inputs:

Distance from Impact: 1000.00 meters ( = 3280.00 feet ) Projectile diameter: 80.00 meters ( = 262.00 feet ) Projectile Density: 8000 kg/m3 Impact Velocity: 45.00 km per second ( = 27.90 miles per second ) Impact Angle: 60 degrees Target Density: 2750 kg/m3 Target Type: Crystalline Rock

Energy:

Energy before atmospheric entry: 2.17 x 1018 Joules = 5.19 x 102 MegaTons TNTThe average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth during the last 4 billion years is 1.4 x 104years

Major Global Changes:

The Earth is not strongly disturbed by the impact and loses negligible mass.The impact does not make a noticeable change in the tilt of Earth’s axis (< 5 hundreths of a degree).The impact does not shift the Earth’s orbit noticeably.

Atmospheric Entry:

The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 29800 meters = 97600 ftThe projectile reaches the ground in a broken condition. The mass of projectile strikes the surface at velocity 40.2 km/s = 25 miles/sThe impact energy is 1.73 x 1018 Joules = 4.14 x 102MegaTons.The broken projectile fragments strike the ground in an ellipse of dimension 0.299 km by 0.259 km

Crater Dimensions:

What does this mean?

Crater shape is normal in spite of atmospheric crushing; fragments are not significantly dispersed.
Transient Crater Diameter: 3.1 km ( = 1.92 miles )Transient Crater Depth: 1.09 km ( = 0.68 miles )
Final Crater Diameter: 3.61 km ( = 2.24 miles )Final Crater Depth: 435 meters ( = 1430 feet ) The crater formed is a complex crater. The volume of the target melted or vaporized is 0.0133 km3 = 0.0032 miles3 Roughly half the melt remains in the crater

Ejecta:

What does this mean?

Your position was inside the transient crater and ejected upon impact

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20 Fascinating Asteroid Facts

 


Out from nowhere, a ball of fire can emerge and hit the Earth like a speeding bullet resulting in an explosive collision releasing as much energy as tens of thousands of megatons of TNT! Results? An extinction-level event that can wipe out most or all of life forms on this blue orb that we call home! What can cause this? Yes, you are right! An asteroid! Looming somewhere deep in the darkness of our very own Solar System, these asteroids are messengers of eminent doom! The question is, ‘when’? No one knows but someday, mankind will have to face this threat. So, let us today learn 15 fascinating facts about asteroids and find out what they really are and what they are capable of! Are you ready?

Asteroid Facts: 1-10

1. Asteroids are amazing celestial objects that hang in our Solar System. There is a whole reservoir of these objects hanging between Mars and Jupiter. How many of them are there? Millions of them! This reservoir is known as asteroid belt.

2. Asteroids are not new or sudden creations. They are old, very old! In fact, they are as old as our planet Earth or any other planet in our Solar System. These asteroids share a common birth with our planets. About 4.6 billion years ago when our Solar System was forming, objects would collide with each other, sticking together to form larger objects and eventually forming planets and satellites. Some of these objects broke apart on collision and failed to gain mass. These unfortunate ones are the asteroids!

3. As far as chemical composition of asteroids is concerned, they are home to wide range of minerals, metals and other substances. Asteroids that were formed by breaking away from some planets inherit a similar chemical composition as the planets. 4. The chemical composition of asteroids undergoes changes while orbiting the sun. This happens because of various chemical reactions that take place. Asteroids that are far from the sun usually have silicate rock composition. Those that are close usually are carbonaceous. 5. There are metallic asteroids present as well. They are mostly made of iron but may also contain other metals like platinum, gold, palladium, iridium etc. There may be some asteroids that have half metallic and half silicate composition. 6. Asteroids often collide with each other. Upon collision, smaller ones can break and end up as dust on the larger ones. This dust is known as regolith. It is not necessary that asteroids will collide only with other asteroids. Any object that crosses their path can collide. 7. Asteroids are pretty dangerous. Collision between asteroids can throw them out of their orbits and set them on a collision course with planets. Earth is not immune to such impacts. As a matter of fact, collision between asteroids and planets shape the very fabric of a planet. Earth as experienced numerous asteroid collisions ever since it birth. 8. Collision of asteroids with planets is known as impact event.

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