An intercept satellite races toward an asteroid. Studies by Iowa State University’s Bong Wie indicate such a vehicle could blast apart asteroids that threaten Earth. Larger image. Credit: Image courtesy of Iowa State’s Asteroid Deflection Research Center

 

Developing Technologies to Save the Earth From Asteroids

Source: Iowa State press release

Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
Posted: 03/09/13
Summary: On April 17, scientists will venture to Washington D.C. to present research as part of NASA’s Technology Day on the Hill. One project focuses on protecting the Earth from asteroids using a ‘one-two’ nuclear punch.

Bong Wie has heard the snickers.

You want to protect the Earth from asteroids? Where were you when the dinosaurs needed you? You want to be like Bruce Willis in that asteroid movie?

Wie has a serious reply: After five years of science and engineering work, Wie and his small team have a publication list of 40-plus technical papers, $600,000 of NASA research support and a proposal for a $500 million test launch of an asteroid intercept system. Plus, Wie has just been invited to show off his research as part of NASA’s Technology Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 17.

“It’s not a laughing matter,” said Wie, the director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University and the Vance D. Coffman Faculty Chair and professor of aerospace engineering.

Recent events have certainly highlighted the threat of asteroid strikes. There was the 15-meter (49-foot) meteor that exploded an estimated 12 miles over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, damaging buildings and injuring more than 1,000 people. That same day, the 45-meter (148-foot) asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within 17,200 miles of Earth.

“DA14 was a serious near miss,” Wie said. “If that impact had happened, it would have been the equivalent of 160 Hiroshima nuclear bombs.

“Even though I say that so many times, people just laugh.”

Read more: Developing Technologies to Save the Earth From Asteroids — Astrobiology Magazine.

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