(CALIFORNIA) JUST IN: Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are trying to develop a new method of altering the trajectories of asteroids that might threaten Earth, according to CBS affiliate KTVT #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.13: Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States are trying to develop a new method of altering the trajectories of asteroids that might threaten Earth, CBS affiliate KTVT reports:

‘US Scientists Consider Using Nuclear Explosions to Protect Earth From Asteroids, according to the media outlet, the researchers have joined forces with “an Air Force team of technologists” and, as team member Lansing Horan IV has explained, set their sights on neutron radiation produced by a nuclear detonation to achieve their goal’

Different neutron energies enhance asteroid deflection

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A research collaboration between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) investigates how the neutron energy output from a nuclear device detonation can affect the deflection of an asteroid. 

Scientists compared the resulting asteroid deflection from two different neutron energy sources, representative of fission and fusion neutrons, allowing for side-by-side comparisons. The goal was to understand which neutron energies released from a nuclear explosion are better for deflecting an asteroid and why, potentially paving the way for optimized deflection performance.  

The work is featured in Acta Astronautica and was led by Lansing Horan IV, as part of a collaboration with LLNL’s Planetary Defense and Weapon Output groups during his nuclear engineering master’s program at AFIT. Co-authors from LLNL include Megan Bruck Syal and Joseph Wasem from LLNL’s Weapons and Complex Integration Principal Directorate, and the co-authors from AFIT include Darren Holland and Maj. James Bevins.

Horan said the research team focused on the neutron radiation from a nuclear detonation since neutrons can be more penetrative than X-rays. 

“This means that a neutron yield can potentially heat greater amounts of asteroid surface material, and therefore be more effective for deflecting asteroids than an X-ray yield,” he said. 

Neutrons of different energies can interact with the same material through different interaction mechanisms. By changing the distribution and intensity of the deposited energy, the resulting asteroid deflection also can be affected. 

The research shows that the energy deposition profiles — which map the spatial locations at and beneath the asteroid’s curved surface, where energy is deposited in varying distributions — can be quite different between the two neutron energies that were compared in this work. When the deposited energy is distributed differently in the asteroid, this means that the melted/vaporized blow-off debris can change in amount and speed, which is what ultimately determines the asteroid’s resulting velocity change.

Noting that neutrons can be more penetrative than X-rays, Horan explained that “this means that a neutron yield can potentially heat greater amounts of asteroid surface material, and therefore be more effective for deflecting asteroids than an X-ray yield.”

The two basic options of dealing with an incoming asteroid, Horan said, are disruption – which essentially means supplying enough energy to shatter an asteroid into numerous fragments – and deflection – altering an asteroid’s course with a discharge of energy.

While disruption “would likely be considered if the warning time before an asteroid impact is short and/or the asteroid is relatively small,” he added, deflection “might generally be preferred as the safer and more ‘elegant’ option, if we have sufficient warning time to enact this sort of response.”

“One ultimate goal would be to determine the optimal neutron energy spectrum, the spread of neutron energy outputs that deposit their energies in the most ideal way to maximise the resulting velocity change or deflection,” he said.

The researcher further stressed the importance of studying and understanding “all asteroid mitigation technologies in order to maximise the tools in our toolkit,” arguing that, in some scenarios, the use of a nuclear device “would come with several advantages over non-nuclear alternatives.”

“In fact, if the warning time is short and/or the incident asteroid is large, a nuclear explosive might be our only practical option for deflection and/or disruption,” he remarked.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.13: 2021:

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