NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) are currently planning to create the HAMMER, which is an acronym for Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response. It’s a spacecraft designed to deflect an incoming asteroid from hitting earth and if it fails in deflecting the asteroid, the plan is to nuke it.
Time is running. Rogue asteroids have led to global-level extinction events in the past. In 2035, asteroid Bennu which is 1,600 foot wide could produce a 1.15 Gigaton explosion if it hits Earth. The impact will be 23 times more than the largest ever hydrogen bomb ever detonated. OSIRIS-Rex, NASA’s asteroid study programme, will be collecting a sample from the surface of the asteroid later this year. The space agency is using the trajectory of OSIRIS-Rex to chart the calculations for the proposed HAMMER.
It is expected to weigh 8.8 ton and must have a speed of 22,000 miles per hour for enough force to deflect asteroids of specific sizes. There will be more than one HAMMER required to steer an asteroid off its course. The sample from Bennu which OSIRIS-Rex will collect is very important. The sample will reveal a lot of data about asteroids, necessary for the creation of a ‘weapon’ which aims to destroy them. OSIRIS-Rex will return to Earth by 2023.