It’s a scary thought, but if a giant asteroid were to head directly toward the Earth, NASA says that we have no way to stop it, according to The Independent.
NASA and other space agencies conducted a week-long exercise, which concluded that even with a six-month advance notice, current capabilities could not prevent a catastrophe.
During the annual Planetary Defense Conference, hosted by the United Nations, participants in the simulation said the only course of action on such short notice would be evacuation of an area before an asteroid hit. According to Yahoo, the participants considered many options, including trying to nudge the asteroid off course, but it was already too close to Earth for that to be effective. Additionally, scientists determined that “the force require to shift [the] fictional asteroid off a collision course with Earth… risks breaking up the asteroid — perhaps creating multiple large fragments that could impact Earth.”
What about a nuclear missile? Well, apparently, “international laws rule out use of nuclear weapons in space.” Although you’d think that they could come up with a way to get around those laws, if — you know — humanity hung in the balance. Or even just a large body of inhabited land!
The good news is that NASA is currently working on asteroid deflection technology which will try to change the orbit of an asteroid that could be effective at mitigating the threat of dangerous near-Earth objects in the future.
A launch is planned for late 2021 of the first test mission of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) system, which is expected to reach the asteroid Dimorphos in autumn 2022.
The Independent reported that Andrea Riley, program executive for DART at NASA, said in part, “The data returned after it impacts Dimorphos will help scientists better understand one way we might mitigate a potentially hazardous NEO discovered in the future.”