‘Chances of asteroid hitting earth is very real’

December 4th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bruce WillisLondon, Dec 4 (IANS) A football field sized asteroid hitting say New York will obliterate the city in a matter of seconds and all that moves within it.The tidal waves of energy unleashed by the collision would be equivalent to several Hydrogen bombs going off at once, a scenario brought to life by 1998 hit movie Armageddon, starring Bruce Willis.

The chances of an asteroid hitting the Earth one day are very real and blowing up an asteroid in real life, says a Tel Aviv University (TAU) researcher, will be more complicated than in the movies.

Astrophysicists agree that the best method for avoiding a catastrophic collision would be to change the path of the asteroid heading toward our planet.

“For that to work, we need to be able to predict what would happen if we attempt an explosion,” says TAU doctoral student David Polishook, who is studying asteroids with his supervisor Noah Brosch at the department of geophysics and planetary sciences.

Polishook and Brosch are among the few scientists in the world researching the structure and composition of asteroids a critical first step in learning how to destroy them before they reach the Earth’s atmosphere, according to a TAU release.

Their research could prevent catastrophe: blowing up an asteroid may create many equally dangerous smaller asteroids of about 100 metres each in diameter twice the size of the asteroid that created the famous Arizona crater.

“The information we are investigating can have a tremendous impact on future plans to alter the course of asteroids on a collision course with Earth,” says Polishook.

“Science needs to know whether asteroids are solid pieces of rock or piles of gravel, what forces are holding them together, and how they will break apart if bombed.”

The latest results of their research were presented at the 2008 meeting of Asteroids, Comets and Meteors, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Baltimore.

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