NASA plans nuclear-armed HAMMER to save Earth from asteroid



The researchers announced the concept vehicle, known as the Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER), in a study in the February issue of the journal Acta Astronautica.

Scientists and engineers with the USA government have drawn up plans for a spacecraft that could knock big, incoming space rocks off course via blunt-force impact or blow them to bits with a nuclear warhead, BuzzFeed News reported.

According to Tech Times, the United States space agency chose to begin development of the probe in case the village-sized Bennu asteroid, which was discovered in 1999, starts on a collision course with Earth.

"If the asteroid is small enough, and we detect it early enough, we can do it with the impactor", physicist David Dearborn from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told BuzzFeed News.

But this strategy wouldn't work for big asteroids that appear out of the cosmic gloom with little warning; there wouldn't be enough time for the nudge to take effect. And the team will discuss HAMMER at an asteroid-research conference in May, according to BuzzFeed News.

With the chances of a huge asteroid hitting Earth and wiping out the human race looking unnervingly real, NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have put their heads together to develop a new spacecraft to deflect a potentially deadly space boulder heading towards our planet. There's a 1-in-2,700 chance that this will indeed happen, on September 21, 2135, BuzzFeed News reported.

The space agency has a space probe on its way to Bennu called the OSIRIS- Rex. The vessel will reach the asteroid this summer, will be orbiting it for two years, and after taking the samples, it is expected to return to Earth in 2023. The OSIRIS-Rex, the ship that was sent out is a very pricy one, costing around 800 million dollars.

For now, however, whether or not the HAMMER plan will ever come to fruition remains up in the air.

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