Russian boffins want to nuke asteroids

101 things to do with a nuclear stockpile

Russian space scientists want to deploy nukes against killer asteroids.

Russia and India Report quotes Tomsk State University scientist Tatyana Galushina explaining modelling led by the university to find out how best to blow up a dangerous asteroid.

Galushina reckons a near-Earth rock that poses a future threat could be smithereened by a nuclear weapon when it's moving away from us. That way, there wouldn't be a risk of radioactive debris entering our atmosphere.

"With the aid of the SKIF Cyberia supercomputer we modeled an asteroid's nuclear explosion in a way so that its highly radioactive debris does not fall to Earth," Galushina said, adding that "we suggest to eliminate such an asteroid not as it is approaching the Earth, but at the moment when it is moving away from us."

The Tomsk modelling suggests a one-megaton device would take care of a 200-metre asteroid, such as Apophis, which is going to pass close enough to be naked-eye-visible in 2029.

Galushina reckons the bomb would turn most of the asteroid into liquid and gas, with the remaining solid fragments all below 10 metres diameter ("an acceptable limit in terms of safety," Galushina said).

It's currently illegal to fire off nukes into space, however, and The Register can't imagine the world's powers changing non-proliferation treaties in a hurry. ®

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