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Asteroid Research Points to Planetary Defense Issues

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A frame-by-frame displaying how gravity causes asteroid fragments to reaccumulate within the hours following impression. Credit score: Charles El Mir/Johns Hopkins College

Incoming asteroids could also be more durable to interrupt than scientists beforehand thought, finds a Johns Hopkins examine that used a brand new understanding of rock fracture and a brand new pc modeling methodology to simulate asteroid collisions.

The findings, to be printed within the March 15 print situation of Icarus, can assist within the creation of asteroid impression and deflection methods, enhance understanding of photo voltaic system formation, and assist design asteroid mining efforts.

Marketing strategy for asteroid mining.
Credit score: Joel Sercel/ICS Associates Inc. and TransAstra

Tonge-Ramesh mannequin

This new work was led by El Mir, a current PhD graduate from the Johns Hopkins College’s Division of Mechanical Engineering and his colleagues, Ok.T. Ramesh, director of the Hopkins Excessive Supplies Institute and Derek Richardson, professor of astronomy on the College of Maryland.

The researchers entered the identical situation into a brand new pc mannequin known as the Tonge-Ramesh mannequin, which accounts for the extra detailed, smaller-scale processes that happen throughout an asteroid collision. Earlier fashions didn’t correctly account for the restricted pace of cracks within the asteroids.

Finish consequence

“Our query was, how a lot vitality does it take to truly destroy an asteroid and break it into items?” says El Mir.

The analysis crew discovered that the top results of their impression work was not only a “rubble pile” – a set of weak fragments loosely held collectively by gravity.

As a substitute, the impacted asteroid retained vital power as a result of it had not cracked utterly, indicating that extra vitality could be wanted to destroy asteroids.

In the meantime, the broken fragments had been now redistributed over the big core, offering steering to those that would possibly need to mine asteroids throughout future area ventures.

Chelyabinsk sky rendering is a reconstruction of the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, 2013. Scientific examine of the airburst has supplied details about the origin, trajectory and energy of the explosion. This simulation of the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion by Mark Boslough was rendered by Brad Carvey utilizing the CTH code on Sandia Nationwide Laboratories’ Purple Sky supercomputer. Andrea Carvey composited the wireframe tail. Picture by Olga Kruglova.
Credit score: Sandia Nationwide Laboratories.

 When the time comes

“We’re impacted pretty typically by small asteroids, equivalent to within the Chelyabinsk occasion just a few years in the past,” says Ramesh in a Hopkins Excessive Supplies Institute press launch. The Institute is situated in Baltimore, Maryland.

“It’s only a matter of time earlier than these questions go from being educational to defining our response to a serious menace,” Ramesh provides. “We have to have a good suggestion of what we must always do when that point comes – and scientific efforts like this one are crucial to assist us make these selections.”

For a visible view of this new work, go to:

The primary section of a brand new asteroid collision mannequin, which exhibits the processes that start instantly after an asteroid is hit—processes that happen inside fractions of a second.


The second section of a brand new asteroid collision mannequin, which exhibits the impact gravity has on the items that fly off an asteroid’s floor after impression. This section happens over many hours.


To entry the Icarus paper — A brand new hybrid framework for simulating hypervelocity asteroid impacts and gravitational reaccumulation – go to:



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