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Why Is NASA Working On A Way To Destroy Asteroids Using Nuclear Weapons?

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Asteroid Meteor - Public DomainYes, I know that headline sounds like it comes from the 1998 movie “Armageddon” starting Bruce Willis, but this is actually happening.  NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration are teaming up to try to figure out a way to use nuclear weapons to either destroy threatening asteroids or to at least nudge them off course.  This seems very odd considering the fact that just a couple of weeks ago NASA publicly announced that it knew of “no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth” and that “no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years“.  If what NASA told us previously is true, than it would seem that it would be a tremendous waste of time, money and resources to work on a way to destroy asteroids using nuclear weapons.  Why is NASA suddenly so interested in the threat of large asteroids if one is not likely to hit us “any time in the next several hundred years”?  Could it be possible that they know something that they are not telling us?

When I first heard that NASA was teaming up with the National Nuclear Security Administration to figure out a way to use nuclear weapons against asteroids, I immediately had flashbacks to two of my favorite movies from the 1990s – Deep Impact and Armageddon.  But it disturbs me that our “best minds” haven’t come up with any better ideas since those films first came out.  The following is from a New York Times article about this new development…

The two agencies — NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration — have long studied such threats on their own. They have surveyed the cosmic debris, designed rocket interceptors and run supercomputer simulations to see if a nuclear blast could nudge a large asteroid off course.

In interviews, federal officials and private experts said the new interagency agreement would deepen the levels of expert cooperation and governmental planning, ultimately increasing the chances of a successful deflection.

“It’s a big step forward,” said Kevin Greenaugh, a senior official at the nuclear security agency. “Whenever you have multiple agencies coming together for the common defense, that’s news.”

It sounds like such a perfectly “American” solution, doesn’t it?

What should we do if a big threat is coming our way?

Just nuke it baby.

But as MSN has pointed out, blowing up a gigantic mountain of rock hurtling toward us at ultra-high speed could create an even bigger problem…

Computer simulations suggest that we could successfully blow up a medium-sized space rock. However, the resulting rock fragments could potentially make the situation worse, depending on how far the asteroid is from Earth when it explodes. A better solution might be to use the bomb to deflect the asteroid instead of blowing it to smithereens.

Other (non-nuclear) proposals include gravity tractors, using sunlight to “boil off” parts of the Near Earth Object, and using lasers or high-speed spacecraft to nudge the object off of its collision course with Earth. However, a 2007 NASA study indicated that nuclear solutions may be the best weapon we’ve got when it comes to fighting killer space rocks.

But this isn’t all that NASA has been up to.

Earlier this year, they conducted a “hypothetical asteroid impact scenario”.  The following is what the official NASA website has to say about that exercise…

At the 2015 IAA Planetary Defense Conference (PDC), to be held April 13 – 17, 2015 in Frascati, Italy, a hypothetical asteroid impact scenario will be presented and used as a basis for discussion. NOTE: Although this scenario is realistic in many ways, it is completely fictional and does NOT describe a real potential asteroid impact.

So why is NASA spending so much time and energy on something they say is probably not going to happen “any time in the next several hundred years”?

Of course the truth is that NASA is not being straight with us.  As the Daily Mail recently explained, there are approximately a million near-Earth objects that could potentially be a threat to our planet, and NASA only knows where a small percentage of them are…

Scientists believe there are around one million near-Earth asteroids that could pose a threat to our planet – but only a tiny fraction have so far been detected.

Dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February last year, when an unknown object exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20 – 30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

It is true that our ability to detect asteroids that can impact our planet has grown.  But it is still extremely limited.  Here is more from the Daily Mail

But existing asteroid detection systems can only track one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the sun, according to asteroid mining firm Planetary Resources, who is partnering with Nasa on the project.

In a session at the SXSW conference in Texas last year, Nasa scientist Jason Kessler said: ‘The likelihood of something hitting us in the future is pretty guaranteed, although we’re not freaking out that there is an imminent threat.’

Yes, without a doubt the chance that a giant space rock will hit us at some point in the future is indeed “pretty guaranteed”.  We know that giant asteroids have hit our planet in the past, and there was a pretty significant “near miss” just a few months ago that NASA did not see coming in advance.  I wish that they would just be honest with us.  NASA cannot see all of the giant space rocks that could be a threat to us, and they definitely should be spending time, money and resources on this problem.

Someday if a giant asteroid were to hit us in just the right spot, like just off the east coast of the United States for example, the consequences would be absolutely catastrophic.  We could suddenly be faced with a tsunami hundreds of feet high racing toward our major coastal cities.  For much more on this, please check out this article and this article.

Most people assume that a major asteroid strike is not a threat because one has not happened during any of our lifetimes.  But NASA would not be going to all of this trouble if this was something that they were not concerned about.

In the end, what they are not telling us could turn out to be far more of a problem than most of us ever imagined.

  • K

    Once upon a time. We would have all probably dismissed this as NASA playing what if. After over a decade of nothing but lies. Who knows anymore. My faith in Government is zero.

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  • Skye Bowen

    Nuclear weapons don’t work in the vacuum of space, there’s nothing, but the mass of the device to push against the “meteor” The reaction would simply make a hot spot on the surface of the meteor.

    • Lab Rat

      Your comment made me stop and think about this in a way I hadn’t before. The law of physics do apply, but the 6 megatons of energy released in a thermonuclear explosion would surely have some effect other than “hotspot” on the surface of the meteor, wouldn’t it? Or am I thinking with a terrestrial bias where we have the mass of earth, rock, water and a dense atmosphere for said explosion to push against and expand?
      Thanks for the cognitive dissonance. My head hurts now, time for a nap.

      • Skye Bowen

        This is what I never understood about their proposals to detonate nuclear weapons in space. Essentially a thermal-nuclear device just uses a relatively small amount of conventional explosive to ram two chunks of radioactive material (plutonium, uranium, etc) into each other. As I understand it, this causes a huge release of thermal energy that is radiated into the air, which immediately expands, and causes shock waves.
        How does this happen in space?

        • HardCorePress

          You’re right it doesn’t and Michio Kaku points this out in of his books…I don’t remember which one unfortunately.

        • They could use a nuclear rocket engine to create thrust to push the asteroid into a different orbit. The problem with this is the spacecraft weighs a lot less then the asteroid so it might push itself away from it a lot more than it pushes the asteroid. There might have to be a net or anchors. Conventional propellant might work just as well depending on how much thrust it outputs.

          • Skye Bowen

            Do nuclear rocket engines exist yet? The Russians used small atomic piles with dielectric plates to produce electricity (Like reversing the function of a Koolatron chip) But to my knowledge, this cannot be used to propel a space-craft.
            Would you not achieve the same results from an inertia / velocity standpoint, by firing a projectile from a gun barrel at the asteroid. (you could have projectiles coming from opposite sides of the barrel to offset the thrust.)

          • I knew i’d get this reply. I looked it up on Wikipedia yesterday & I mean when it gets invented. Technology is progressing so fast that hopefully stuff like that gets invented not too far off.
            The bunker buster missiles is probably a better idea. If one doesn’t work they can fire several. Just have the thrust offset & have thrusters to correct the satellite’s position. The aim/position doesn’t have to be perfect because missiles have their own navigation system.

            I’m thinking they don’t even need the same equal & opposite force firing at the same time as the missile. Have it mounted externally & loosely attached so the thrust from the missile doesn’t push the satellite back. Just have thrusters on to counter the force & fix it’s position later.

  • There is already an Asteroid defense system in place on earth created by Blue ETs in Russian Siberian region which helped destroy Tungksha Meteor. Google Valery Uvarov & Valley of Death.

    We wouldn’t be even here nor NASA, if the Tungksha meteor was not destroyed even before it hit earth in 1908. Its a very very interesting story on how the shamen’s warned of incoming danger and made the entire tribe’s living in siberian region move away. That was the reason, very few people died not because it was in a remote region as claimed by main stream.

    The tribals in Siberian region already had prior knowledge of what was going happen. Google Valery Uvarov article and his first hand interview of people who actually witnessed it.

    However, NASA is not a kid either, it knows Planetary Defense system exists etc..

  • Scott Denard

    I wonder if any of these geniuses have considered what effect the nuclear fallout from radioactive dust would have on the areas that get showered as a result of this destruction?

    • If they exploded it in outer space most of the radiation would be repelled by Earth’s magnetic field & filtered out by the atmosphere. A small percentage of the total radiation would stick to the rock fragments but the farther it travels the less there is (especially as the rocks pass through the magnetic field & atmosphere). The rocks might not be headed toward Earth after the explosion anyway.
      I think there would be far less radiation reach the surface than what’s going on in Japan.

      I hope they blow up several asteroids just so they’ll learn how (far away from Earth of course).

  • thara43

    Could the Jade Helm 15 build up in the southern states and around the country have anything to do with this. Just wondering.

    • folgers22

      The exercise is slated for 1200 people, according to the news. That’s not exactly what you would consider a big deployment.

      • thara43

        The Maine stream news is not telling us everything.

    • kfilly

      I just watched a video that talked about what the Bill Ayers group Weather Underground had planned. They planned for reeducation camps in the American southwest. Since comrade Ayers has close ties to comrade Obama, I wonder if the JADE Helm activity could be a preparation to make that happen.

    • VigilanteCaregiver

      From what I found, this is Alpha Team training. They’re using multiple states to simulate escaping hostile territory. They need thousands of square miles as Alpha Teams are trained for such transverses in enemy countries to friendly areas. The civilian-clad troops are supposed to act as enemy/allied agents. The Alpha’s are supposed to discern between the two.

      And look at the name “Jade Helm”. Two guesses as to who the enemy in this exercise is (hint: most likely not US citizens).

  • HardCorePress

    We already know the Earth will be struck at least once by a stellar body in the future. The Bible tells us this will happen as a result of God’s judgement upon the wicked people of Earth.

    • VigilanteCaregiver

      Wormwood…

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  • DJohn1

    People used to stand on hills and roll rocks down the hill at the enemy troops.
    Asteroids are simply larger rocks with a much larger hill. The Earth rotates at approximately 18,000 miles per hour. The escape velocity is approximately 25,000 miles per hour. That is a lot of energy.
    Launching a rock that is large enough not to burn up as it enters the atmosphere gives you a thermal molten rock traveling at about 18,000 miles per hour. It is not radioactive. Atmosphere drag will make it lose some speed but not enough to matter.
    It is capable of destroying entire cities and there is no defense against it. If it comes in at a 30 degree angle or less(about the pitch of a typical ranch style roof) it will plow a trench leaving far more destruction than a nuclear bomb.
    It is quite capable of destroying a massive army that is in one place. Size is everything.
    If it hits an ocean it will create a giant wave that is equally destructive.
    It is also quite capable of changing the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Driving us either further out or closer in.
    SO I can see why NASA is studying the entire idea of diverting asteroids. Typical asteroid is made up mostly of Iron/Nickel compounds and lesser elements like water.
    Most are in stable orbits and have very small possibilities of hitting our planet. It does happen occasionally.
    Typically objects out there travel at up to 40 miles a second or better.

  • folgers22

    What we need is the deep space mining people to get on this. They’re the ones who plan to tow these things into orbit for exploitation, so they’re probably in the best position to explore capturing and towing incoming targets. They’ll be in a position to command an impressive fee for their space tow service.

  • donna

    why shouldn’t they be ? This is clearly something discussed as one possible apocalyptic scenario for our time as well as mysterious events in life of planet such as extinction of dinosaurs. Seems like a very good use of technology. Why does everything to michael have to be interpreted through prism of ‘conspiracy” Personally relieved in being spared to have an opinion about things I really know nothing about.

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  • Makaipi

    Two things that NASA will make public: 1. It blew up.,2. We need more money.

  • VigilanteCaregiver

    I have no idea why anyone would want to strike a near-Earth asteroid with a nuclear weapon – especially since the larger fragments would still fall to Earth, but this time it’s radiated! As if deep space wasn’t a nuclear hazard itself…

    Best bet would be bunker busters with mining explosives: pierce the asteroid’s exterior and blast it from the inside. The explosion should also cause a shockwave to break up the larger rocks and iron; possibly use the same explosives as mining operations use. The explosive would need to detonate in deep space, so should be encased in a pressurized oxygen tank. This method might be cheaper, too. (Would love to test this theory out, but nooooo… I’m restricted to launching rockets to a 150 ft. max ceiling ’cause I’m just a politically worthless civilian!)

    Extra oxygen is essential for this to work. Same as in firing guns in space; except with bullets, add extra nitrates to provide the atmosphere for firing or the bullets will be sluggish.

  • thara43

    That’s a lot of information John. Interesting.

  • Ahmed AL-Jaber

    They just make Stopless Nuke launcher.. imagine that weapon used in war.