With a COVID-19 pandemic raging, the last thing you want to think about is another possible way the world could fall apart. For researchers at China’s National Space Science Center, this is exactly what they are focusing on, Yahoo News reported.
- Their concern: “Armageddon” by an asteroid, Reuters reported.
Chinese researchers want to train to hijack an Earth-sized asteroid using a rocket fleet, the Daily Mail reported. This plan could be essential in saving humanity if an asteroid large enough is on a collision course for our planet.
What’s China’s plan to stop an asteroid from causing Armageddon?
Chinese researchers have a plan to launch 23 of the Chinese Long March 5 rockets that will simultaneously strike the asteroid and push it 5,592 miles from its path, the Daily Mail said. The hijacking would deflect the asteroid 1.4 times the radius of Earth, successfully avoiding a collision.
- These rockets will travel for three years before hitting the asteroid, Yahoo News reported.
- China’s plan will only require a decade-long warning in order to prepare and launch the rockets in time to avoid a collision, according to Yahoo News.
According to Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of the Astrophysics Research Center at Queen’s University Belfast:
- “The proposal to keep the top stage of the launch rocket as a guide spacecraft, making a large ‘kinetic impactor’ to deflect an asteroid, is a pretty cool concept,” according to Reuters.
In fact, China isn’t the only country with an asteroid readiness plan. The United States has also developed an asteroid response plan called HAMMER – which stands for Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response, Yahoo News reported.
- The US plan is to launch 34 to 35 rockets that would travel for two years before hitting an asteroid in an attempt to destroy it, the Daily Mail said.
- For the HAMMER plan to be successful, an asteroid must be discovered 25 years before the possible collision, according to Yahoo News.
Could China’s asteroid readiness plan really work?
China’s plan to hijack an asteroid from Earth is a lower risk alternative to destroying the asteroid. Scientists agree that the destruction of an asteroid cannot change the trajectory of smaller fragments, according to Reuters.
- The remaining asteroid fragments could still strike Earth and cause serious damage, Yahoo News reported.
Should we be worried about the collision of an asteroid with Earth?
In general, no. The chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth are very low but the damage could be severe, Reuters reported.
- There is a substantial-sized asteroid – called Bennu – orbiting the sun that will be within 4.6 million miles of Earth, the Daily Mail has reported.
- The odds of Bennu hitting Earth are 1 in 2,700, but scientists consider the potential destruction to be enough to cause concern, Yahoo News reported.