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Nukes Not the Best Way To Stop Asteroids, Says Apollo Astronaut

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the thin-coating-of-flubber dept.

Earth 367

MajorTom writes "Right now, we are not tracking many of the asteroids that could destroy earth. But within the next decade, new telescopes will make that possible, and leave us with the tough decision of what to do about objects with an alarming chance of hitting our planet. Last year, NASA said that the best option is to nuke them. This week, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, explained that there are far better options, and he has started an organization to prove that they can work."

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Then What Do We Nuke? (5, Funny)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362213)

Then what does he propose that we nuke? Each other? The whales? Martians?

Re:Then What Do We Nuke? (5, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362263)

The darkness! I want to attack the darkness! ...

Fine, fine. . You cast nuclear fission at the darkness.

Re:Then What Do We Nuke? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363007)

The darkness! I want to attack the darkness!

So you DON'T believe in a thing called love?
I mean the music video has a space monster and everything!

Re:Then What Do We Nuke? (1, Funny)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362281)

Bruce Willis please :-)

He's got a point - why nuke the asteroid? (5, Funny)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362609)

Trying to use nukes to deflect the asteroid seems like the more difficult solution to me. The asteroid will be far away and moving fast. Earth is close and (relative to us) not moving at all!

Clearly the more practical way to avoid a collision is to use the nukes to deflect Earth out of the path of the asteroid.

Re:He's got a point - why nuke the asteroid? (3, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362677)

This got an insightful. I'm not sure to be proud of the mods for modding up a great bit of satire, or ashamed at how they did it.

Re:He's got a point - why nuke the asteroid? (2, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362957)

You don't get karma points for "funny" ratings, so some mods will give an exceptionally funny post an "insightful" rating instead. As Taco said, you have to be wise, not a wise-ass.

You don't get karma for "underrated" either, which is why that's not used instead.

Personally, I just rate the first 5 posts on idle as "overrated". It works out great. I get to ditch the mod points as fast as I can and statistically, I'm modding the posts correctly.

Re:Then What Do We Nuke? (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362681)

Then what does he propose that we nuke? Each other? The whales? Martians?

Nuke the gay baby whales for Jesus.

Re:Then What Do We Nuke? (0)

AmaranthineNight (1005185) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362687)

Just nuke the fridge. [urbandictionary.com]

Re:Then What Do We Nuke? (0)

ghostmech (1332445) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362999)

just proves once more that nukes have no value.

Edgar Mitchell? (3, Funny)

XanC (644172) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362217)

If Edgar Mitchell's involved, then we know for sure that nukes are the best option!

Nuke it from Earth. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362221)

It's the only way to make sure.

TFS (5, Informative)

mpeg4codec (581587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362223)

To save you all the horror and pain of reading TFA (since TFS doesn't state), Schweickart is suggesting we either push or pull them away with unmanned spacecraft.

Re:TFS (2, Insightful)

TrashGod (752833) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362401)

Why not a spacecraft powered by nukes, as in Footfall [wikipedia.org] by Jerry Pournelle [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:TFS (3, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362765)

While you're at it, don't forget Jerry's [jerrypournelle.com] coauthor, Larry Niven! [wikipedia.org]

Re:TFS (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362899)

I hope you realize that Pournelle and Niven didn't just make that up? Project Orion [wikipedia.org] was a very real attempt to develop nuclear pulse propulsion. It is still a viable option for space travel, as long we're not talking about a ground-launch using nuclear pulses. To get the sucker into orbit, we might have to resort to something a bit more mundane. Like a dozen SRBs or somesuch.

It depends on the timing... (3, Interesting)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362229)

If we can detect it in time then a push from behind/side might have time to help enough. Seems to me a nuke would be more of a last minute Oh Crap choice.

Re:It depends on the timing... (5, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362823)

Not really. Let's say that the most we can do with a nuke is slow the asteroid down by 1 f/sec. Doesn't sound like much, does it? but if you do it 30 days before impact, that shifts the asteroid back almost 491 miles. If you have six months, it's over 2000 miles. Considering that the Earth is a moving target, that might be enough to ensure a miss. You're not trying to blow up the asteroid, you're just trying to nudge it into a slightly different orbit that doesn't impact the Earth, and if you have time, it doesn't take very much.

Alternative sugestion (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362231)

Move it into orbit and mine it.

Re:Alternative sugestion (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362649)

With mines [wikipedia.org] or with mines [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Alternative sugestion (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362925)

No, no ... that was a typo. We send mimes into space.

Re:Alternative sugestion (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362745)

You've missed the whole point. The question here is not what to do with it, but how do we do anything with it.

Re:Alternative sugestion (2, Interesting)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362825)

Assuming this is even possible what are the chances of the asteroid's orbit decaying and having it plummet to the earth anyway? How long would it stay in orbit before this occurred?

Going back to whether or not this is possible it seems like it would take monumental effort to make it happen with the possibility of little to no gain (aside from the obvious "we're not going to die from this particular asteroid"). Lets see, we would need to:

  1. Precisely plan a time to intercept.
  2. Actually intercept it with a manned mission or an unmanned interceptor.
  3. Slow it down enough and change it's course to one which will result in a geosynchronous orbit.
  4. Actually begin the operation of mining its contents and sending them back to earth (and no, Bruce Willis and Steve Buschemi won't be available for this one).

While your idea is an interesting one I'm going to go with the idea that at this point in time, with our current technology and knowledge, we're boned if anything larger than a kilometer in diameter is heading our way. Lets face it, while NASA has done a lot of great things their success rate hasn't exactly been spectacular. I'm not saying it is a completely impossible idea, just that it is highly improbable that we could successfully execute this plan.

Re:Alternative sugestion (2, Insightful)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362907)

Assuming this is even possible what are the chances of the asteroid's orbit decaying and having it plummet to the earth anyway?

Probably quite similar to the chances of the Moon's orbit decaying and having it plummet to the Earth, if we set it up right.

Re:Alternative sugestion (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363011)

Seems like a mighty big "if" if you ask me. It's not as if we've never had satellite's fall from an orbit we put them into before.

Re:Alternative sugestion (1)

sir fer (1232128) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363025)

Lets face it, while NASA has done a lot of great things their success rate hasn't exactly been spectacular.

oh really? and how does it compare with your success rate with interplanetary travel?

Nuke 'em from orbit... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362241)

...it's the only way to be sure...

oh wait.

The interesting bit... (5, Interesting)

pagewalker (1286802) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362255)

He's saying pushing or pulling an asteroid is better than hitting it with a nuclear weapon, but the interesting thing is that he's claiming NASA issued its pro-nuclear statement last year in response to political pressure to put nuclear weapons in space.

---
Thousands are enslaved every day. http://www.riverofinnocents.com/ [riverofinnocents.com]

Re:The interesting bit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362465)

He's saying pushing or pulling an asteroid is better than hitting it with a nuclear weapon

That's crazy talk. Anyone who says nukes aren't the solution just isn't planning on using a big enough nuke.

NASA is an administratioon (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362689)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is an administration, run by administrators for the benefit of administrators. The boss is appointed by the president.

So why does anyone get surprised when NASA changes its tune in accordance with political whim, be that on the use of nukes or on global warming?

Re:The interesting bit... (1)

delong (125205) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362809)

claiming NASA issued its pro-nuclear statement last year in response to political pressure to put nuclear weapons in space

And I claim that I own Mannhatten. One absurdity deserves another.

Of course it has to be a "nefarious" (TFA's words, not mine) plot to get nukes into space. Notwithstanding that there's no use for such a policy, seeing as how an ICBM works just fine.

Re:The interesting bit... (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362993)

Why does it have to be an either/or choice? If we detect the asteroid early, we can push/pull it out of a collision orbit. If we detect it too late to do that, we can nuke it. On that note, I suspect the reason NASA issued a pro-nuclear statement is because realistically that's the only option we have right now. Once an organized detection plan is put into place, then push/pull becomes a viable option. But even then you want to keep nukes on the table. Even the best detection program will have a chance of missing an asteroid until the last minute (well, days).

Armageddon? (5, Funny)

lorg (578246) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362257)

Please let one of the options be to send Ben Affleck into space. He has experience.

Re:Armageddon? (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362361)

Sure, he can stop the asteroid by blocking it with his huge ego.

Re:Armageddon? (0, Flamebait)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362369)

That or a presidential candidate. We could pretty much replace any of them with a button marked "Crap".

Re:Armageddon? (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362533)

Please let one of the options be to send Ben Affleck into space. He has experience.

And even more importantly, make sure he stays there!

Re:Armageddon? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362603)

Sounds like a Win-Win scenario!

I think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362275)

The best option by far would be to try to land Harrison Ford, and Aerosmith on it.

here's another approach (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362279)

Find those advanced aliens that the other Apollo astronaut says are in our midst, and arrange for technology transfer briefings on asteroid redirection.

Where to nuke? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362321)

Just turning the asteroid into pieces wont work, the pieces will still come in the same direction.

But what about using nukes as some sort of "propulsion" system (as in the Project Orion [wikipedia.org] ), so they can change the direction of the asteroid? Wont be something for the last minute, but, could work?

Re:Where to nuke? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362387)

Just turning the asteroid into pieces wont work, the pieces will still come in the same direction.

But the pieces will have more surface area and therefore will burn up in the atmosphere more efficiently.

But what about using nukes as some sort of "propulsion" system (as in the Project Orion [wikipedia.org] ), so they can change the direction of the asteroid? Wont be something for the last minute, but, could work?

That could work. Or we could change the direction of the Earth :P

Re:Where to nuke? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362631)

That could work. Or we could change the direction of the Earth :P

Funny answer #1: Hey, I don't much like the direction we're going in now; it's worth a shot.

Funny answer #2: Simple. Just change the gravitational constant of the universe.

Re:Where to nuke? (1)

T-ice (1069420) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362531)

What are you talking about? Millions of little radio active asteriod pieces is the perfect solution!

Re:Where to nuke? (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362789)

The nuke proposal entails detonating the nuke off to one side of the asteroid. You want to be close enough to vaporize the surface but not so close as to fragment the asteroid.

Whether or not NASA's approach is the correct approach, NASA has the problem Schweickart's talking about - you have to try whatever you're going to do on a test asteroid (ideally on several different asteroids) before you're sure it's going to work. You certainly don't want to find out late in the game that nukes or tug boats won't do it when the outcome matters.

Schweickart's approach has the advantage of not having to re-negotiate the ban on nukes in space with the Russians.

Slightly off-topic. It seems to me that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter should be allocating some of its observing time looking for asteroids. It has the distinct advantage of being able to spot an object whose current orbit puts it on a direct path to the earth - something you can't see from the earth because the object isn't moving in our field of view. That's especially true for objects coming from the sun-side.

Re:Where to nuke? (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362791)

But what about using nukes as some sort of "propulsion" system (as in the Project Orion [wikipedia.org] ), so they can change the direction of the asteroid? Wont be something for the last minute, but, could work?

Probably the best way to use a nuke to deflect an asteroid is to detonate it at a slight standoff. The ablated surface from the asteroid nearest the detonation will generate thrust spread over a large area - which is exactly how Project Orion worked.

I always wondered (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362339)

Why couldn't we just use nukes to redirect them? Detonate one of them near the asteroid, push it off course, and keep doing this until a desired trajectory is met that will not cause it to collide with Earth or the Moon. Its kind of like pushing a basketball mid-flight, you wouldn't be stopping the full force of the ball as much as just redirecting the current energy with some other force. It would require that we have early knowledge but still could work.

And of course anything that breaks off could be nuked also into smaller pieces till they are no threat. Of course we would have to be constantly scanning for these pieces but if a ball of death is heading for us I would assume all telescopes would be looking at it anyway.

1up (5, Funny)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362449)

so, let me see if I got this right:

you would have a small triangular ship. Maybe two or three extras "just in case".
we could control it remotely. A rotational control and a forward thruster should suffice.
Then we could "fire" small nukes at the object. That would change their trajectory and break them into smaller pieces.

I think it sounds like a brilliant idea, but where would we be able to find someone who could operate such a machine?

Re:1up (4, Funny)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362905)

You'd probably want to design the triangle to be able to move out of the way of the asteroid via some 'hyper space' mechanism as well, in case you were too close to thrust out of the way manually.

Re:1up (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362949)

Don't forget the spherical shield and "deh......deh....deh..deh" audio.

Re:I always wondered (5, Insightful)

MSZ (26307) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362471)

Detonate one of them near the asteroid, push it off course

You can rain nukes on that asteroid till it glows, but that won't make much difference. Trick is, in the vacuum of space, nuclear explosion is weak. There is no air to create blast wave and thermal flash, so all you get is some hard radiation and hand-grenade level of blast from vaporized bomb casing. And that's it.

Project Orion would get around this problem by using thousands of little charges, detonated close to the reflector - and it would still take years to accelerate.

A volley of the kind of nuclear warheads we have now would not effectively change course of any asteroid big enough to be a threat.

And blasting it to pieces would make a little difference, only in distribution of the damage - we'd get stoned with a swarm of fragments instead of one big piece, yet the same mass and total energy.

Re:I always wondered (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362729)

A volley of the kind of nuclear warheads we have now would not effectively change course of any asteroid big enough to be a threat.

I wonder. I have to admit, I don't have a model to work with, but wonder whether a 20-40megaton nuke would have more or less effect than let's say a 3042 ton Saturn V launched from earth, which IIRC can get 45 tons to the moon. The first thing I'm thinking is the water saturated in the rocks of the asteroid belt, which will be vaporized. The second thing I'm thinking is the ROCK which too would be vaporized to a certain extent. IIRC a 40mton on the ground will create a creator about 3km across by .5km deep.

So I agree we have to take into account most of the damage caused by high yield weapons is the atmosphere doing the work, I do have to ask how much thrust would be provided by converting that much rock into vapor.

Re:I always wondered (1)

Silm (1135973) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362755)

And blasting it to pieces would make a little difference, only in distribution of the damage - we'd get stoned with a swarm of fragments instead of one big piece, yet the same mass and total energy.

While I agree that nukes may not be the perfect weapon against invading asteroids, but blasting something to pieces certainly has some positive side effects, even if the pieces still hit earth. Atleast more of the meteors will burn up in the atmosphere if the mass is spread out more, resulting in less mass hitting the surface. next to that I can imagine more of the energy of the pieces cancelling each other, when the pieces hit an ocean for example, eg tsunami's cancelling each other due to simultaneous diffirent angles.

Re:I always wondered (4, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362799)

A nuclear warhead intended to deflect an asteroid could be designed to penetrate the asteroid prior to detonation. Blasting away debris from the surface of the asteroid would allow you to "push" it effictively.

And blasting it into little pieces would most certainly have an effect, since smaller pieces have more drag, they would be more likely to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere (same total energy, much wider dispersion). Also none of the resulting pieces are likely to have exactly the same trajectory as the original asteroid. Depending on the angle of impact, they will be moving at a different speed or in a different direction than the original.

Re:I always wondered (1)

Deltaway (1238354) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362803)

I thought that blasting the asteroid to pieces would increase the amount of exposure to the atmosphere, making it easier for fragments to burn up than if they were encased in one big lump. This is even assuming all the fragments still make it to the atmosphere. If the pieces were very small, and the total mass wasn't so large as to heat up the atmosphere to dangerous levels, then all the earth would get would be a rather spectacular meteor shower. Bad luck for the satellites, though.

Re:I always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362849)

Actually, "blasting it to pieces" would work if the pieces were small enough. That's exactly the approach the Navy took to neutralize the danger of the non-functioning spy satellite last Feb.

Re:I always wondered (2, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362879)

There is no air to create blast wave and thermal flash, so all you get is some hard radiation and hand-grenade level of blast from vaporized bomb casing. And that's it.

AIUI, you have to have the blast very close to the surface, if not actually on it. The radiation from the blast will be enough to vaporize some small amount of the asteroid. That vapor will leave the asteroid very quickly in the direction the blast came from and the rest of it will move in the other direction, although very slowly. I agree that it's not going to be as effective as it would be in atmosphere, but there will be some acceleration from it, and as I pointed out in another post, it doesn't take very much if you can give it enough time to work.

Re:I always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362885)

More surface area, more rock stopped by the atmosphere. More pieces is better, if you can get the pieces small enough.

Re:I always wondered (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362915)

we'd get stoned with a swarm of fragments instead of one big piece, yet the same mass and total energy.

Getting stoned is way more trouble than it's worth.

Re:I always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362979)

Not quite. Smaller fragments would burn up better on atmospheric entry, because of the more favourable surface area to volume ratio.

Not saying it'd *work*, but there is technically a difference.

I suppose someone will complain about the air pollution of burning rock...

Re:I always wondered (1)

hamster_nz (656572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363041)

You use the nuke vaporise the surface of the Asteroid and the 'recoil' provides the thrust to alter the orbit.

now this!? (4, Funny)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362345)

First an Apollo Astronaut says that the government has covered up Alien contact, now this!?

Re:now this!? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363023)

yes. you win. this.
it's about eyeballs.
i read it, you did, too.
Slashdot/etc. wins/profit.

Test Trial (1, Insightful)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362347)

I would think, if the "safety of the Earth/mankind" is at risk .... Shouldn't they be putting their theory to work? I'd want to make sure that a nuke CAN divert the asteroid in practice than reading about an academic debate or reading that NASA administrators/management reiterate probably incorrectly that their plan of action is the right way (as always and as government organizations always do).

Shouldn't there be an International Body finding a solution. The US isn't the only country with nukes, the right group of scientists, etc. etc. that can find a possible solution to this problem.

Simple answers become complex... (2, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362497)

The simply answer is that the physics are already known, and it all depends on how far in the future the impact is before we detect it. Given a century just about anything would work. Given less than a year, almost nothing would.

Given a couple decades, yes, there are a number of non-nuclear options. A nice high impulse drive, perhaps a number of them, set into the surface of the asteroid. They thrust in the proper direction over a long period of time, and we end up being able to put the asteroid pretty much where ever we want it.

In a shorter time frame or larger asteroid, nukes might end up being the best choice. Of course, for best propulsion, like in the horrible movie, burying it might be the best option - that allows part of the mass of the asteroid to be used to propel the asteroid in the opposite direction. The ejecta, even though some is almost guaranteed to hit the earth, is okay because it'll overwhelmingly burn up in the atmosphere.

Re:Simple answers become complex... (1, Insightful)

MSZ (26307) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362623)

for best propulsion, like in the horrible movie, burying it might be the best option

For ANY noticeable populsion, burying them is the ONLY option. Otherwise you will just make a fireworks show for Hubble to watch.
Actually I think the best way would be to send a nuke in large tank of water, contact fused. Evaporated water would create a blast wave that might have some effect. Just remember to calculate all aspects of the mission in the same units...

Re:Simple answers become complex... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362761)

Actually, due to flash vaporization from radiation, even a surface nuke would provide SOME thrust, but burying it would allow nearly 100% of the nuke's thrust to be used for thrust, vs 10% or so for a stand-off explosion.

Re:Simple answers become complex... (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362941)

Actually I think the best way would be to send a nuke in large tank of water...

Interesting idea. One of the new techniques coming out of the "war on terror" for knocking holes in walls is to place an IV bag full of water or saline on top of a block of explosive, which you then stick to the wall. The water shapes and directs the explosion, allowing much more of it's force to be directed at the structure. I wonder how difficult it'd be to create a similar effect with a nuke?

Any engineers or physicists out there wanna give this one a shot?

Re:Test Trial (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362513)

We've already nuked earth several times. Hasn't seemed to change its trajectory much.

Primary problem (4, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362359)

The main problem with nukes is that criminals will be released from the Phantom Zone if a nuclear weapon goes off in space.

Re:Primary problem (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362663)

The main problem with nukes is that criminals will be released from the Phantom Zone if a nuclear weapon goes off in space.

At least Zod was *competent* at being evil. I just can't respect incompetent evil like W. I say it's time to vote for the greater of two evils. Release the nuclear hounds!

(And no Cthulu jokes, please.)

Re:Primary problem (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362965)

At least Zod was *competent* at being evil. I just can't respect incompetent evil like W.

+ It took me a moment to realize that you weren't talking about W from Good Eats. [wikipedia.org] W may be Alton's worst nemesis, but he can't help going back to her because, like it or not, she does know cooking utensils!

The reason for nukes (4, Informative)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362467)

Nukes have been a popular options because:
1. We have them.
2. They have a high ISP (a measure of efficiency) when used as propulsion against a large object. Paradoxically, the ISP for Orion-style nuke propulsion increases with the size/mass of the object.
3. They're much more portable compared to most other types of methods.

Schweikart has identified the REALLY valuable truth, that we need to improve our detection method. We also need to develop deep space capability because the further out we can intercept them, the less energy is needed to perform the deflection. Lower energy can also mean less danger of fracturing the mass.

Re:The reason for nukes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362579)

4. They are fun

Re:The reason for nukes (1)

beav007 (746004) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362699)

I have never seen an ISP that could be used as a measure of efficiency. Incompetence, sure, but not efficiency...

Re:The reason for nukes (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362843)

ISP has been used to refer to specific impulse well before packet switched networks were used to connect computers.

I think we all know.... (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362487)

...That the best solution is to wait until it gets so close that "I can see my house" and then open up a Hyperspace Window to take the thing to the other side of the planet.

Its what Macgyver would do.

Re:I think we all know.... (1)

DeathGod321 (1126621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362521)

Yeah, nukes would just let the goa'uld win.

Re:I think we all know.... (1)

warrenb10 (724789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362807)

Or there's the old standby of rousing the temple spirits and making the blue flame come out.

one of the first and one of the last meets... (2, Funny)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362519)

... asteroids vs duke nukem :D

Hyperspace Window (0, Redundant)

alzoron (210577) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362541)

Just wait until the last possible moment,open a hyperspace window and let the astroid fly "through" earth.

Problem solved.

Re:Hyperspace Window (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362629)

I misread this at first as "Hyperspace Windows."

Brings a whole new meaning to BSoD.

Re:Hyperspace Window (1)

Zekasu (1059298) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362635)

"How does it work?"

"Magnets, lots of magnets."

Re:Hyperspace Window (1)

DeathGod321 (1126621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362637)

We can also use most of the United States' power to shift the earth out of phase for a few minutes.

Why bother at all? (4, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362563)

The probability is vanishingly small we'll get crunchified and the likelihood of any bureaucratic solution even working is also damn low. So let's just accept that there's a nonzero probability that we'll all get wiped out. Worst case we all die someday anyway.

That's not a big deal. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362585)

We still have that wrecked Goa'uld starship's hyperdrive.

A trivialized problem (2, Insightful)

ACS Solver (1068112) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362633)

Not exactly what TFA is talking about, but I dislike how the very real threat of asteroids is trivialized in the public mind. Every time astronomers discover a remotely threatening asteroid, anything that hits 1 on Torino scale, journalists warn of a dangerous collision that could wipe out a continent, yadda yadda, while further observation of the asteroid over the next weeks shows that there's no chance of collision. So the public hears these stories about asteroids at least once a year and many thus think that it's a bogus threat because, oh, whenever journalists warn of a possible collision it turns out to be a non-threat, so it will never be a threat, right?

Makes me wish that journalists would just shut up about any objects lower than 3 on the Torino Scale.

Early detection by far best option (2, Insightful)

aapold (753705) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362661)

If you identify objects on collision course in time, only a very minor adjustment in its trajectory will result in it missing by a very wide (and safe) margin.

Aliens? (1)

bigplrbear (1179259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362665)

If we were to use a nuclear weapon against an asteroid, there would be a few problems-

1.The asteroid might break apart into several smaller pieces, possibly making the problem worse

2.The size of the nuclear warhead would have to be enormous in order to blast a huge rock out of the way. Blowing up a huge nuclear warhead would create alot of radiation, and some of it will come back down to Earth.

I think the best way to deal with an asteroid is to send a rocket to the asteroid, land on the rock and use that rocket to push the asteroid out of the way. It would be a real pain, but we have landed spacecraft on an asteroid before.

And if that fails... NUKE IT!

Re:Aliens? (1)

bigplrbear (1179259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362671)

woops.... meant to make the title "rockets?", not "aliens?". The CIA made me do it- I forgot my tinfoil hat

Re:Aliens? (1)

psued0ch (1200431) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362911)

You know that using nuclear weapons against an Earth-bound object will fail, why bother using it as a backup plan?

It is not at all practical or possible to construct a spacecraft with capabilities to land on an asteroid, somehow reverse it's engines, and have enough power to move the asteroid.

Nukes not best way to stop asteroids (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362679)

Well, duh! Nukes are second best, only to be used if Chuck Norris is unavailable.

Why is this even news? (1)

TheCastro (1329551) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362747)

This has been discussed over and over again, now we attach some old astronaut to it and suddenly people should care again. NASA has been working on other means to gently nudge asteroids seen coming towards Earth when they are very far away. People are just afraid of nuclear fall out from the smaller bits of the asteroid after the explosion, but odds are the pieces would burn up in our atmosphere. It's ridiculous that this is still being talked about. I've seen Armageddon and Deep Impact, we're gonna send John Glenn into space with some young cocky people and some mining team - they'll save us all and get high schools named after them.

The first thing that came to mind... (1)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362839)

"Why are hemorrhoids called hemorrhoids and asteroids called asteroids? Wouldn't it make more sense if it was the other way around? But if that was true, then a proctologist would be an astronaut." - Robert Schimmel

In that context, nukes do seem like a rather extreme solution.

Locate them first. (1)

jagdish (981925) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362841)

Instead of exploding the nuke, a better way would be to harness the energy from a controlled nuclear reaction to gently push the asteroid. However, we must first locate the asteroids before we think of ways of dealing with it.

Is my math horribly wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362863)

If a 1 MT (4.184x10^15 J see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaton) nuke explodes on the surface of a 4 million ton asteroid, and only 1% of the energy released is converted to motion, then the change in velocity will be:

4.184x10^15 J * 0.01 / 4x10^9 kg * 1 (kg*m/s)/J = ~ 1x10^4 m/s

Sounds like a big enough delta v to move it (or what's left of it) away from us.

Moving Asteroids (2, Funny)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362869)

Didn't anyone ever watch Star Trek? This is such a simple problem. Just change the gravitational constant of the universe, thereby altering the mass of the object and making it easy to move. Oww! Where is that doctor?!

Preparation H Stops Assroids (1)

srobert (4099) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362875)

Sorry I couldn't resist.

comicon is a fag convention in disguise (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362917)

because we know all comic freaks are faggots and bitches. go back to delivering your pizzas.

Nukes (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363035)

The way the world is going on, maybe nukes will be the way to avoid any future asteroid kills humans here, or maybe just the few surviving ones.
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