In Brief

Nasa unveils asteroid-busting Hammer probe

Nuclear-armed satellite could save humanity from annihilation by giant space rock

Nasa has announced plans to develop a nuclear-armed satellite capable of saving the world from massive rogue asteroids like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. 

The spacecraft, referred to as the Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response), is kitted out with a nuclear warhead to blow up asteroids that might pose a threat to human existence. 

If the event of an asteroid being spotted heading towards Earth, Nasa, in partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), plan to employ one of two tactics to prevent an impact, Futurism reports. 

For smaller space rocks, the Hammer will use an 8.8-tonne “impactor” to deflect the object, says the science and tech website. Asteroids that are too big to nudge off course will be destroyed using the satellite’s nuclear bomb.

According to Tech Times, the US space agency decided to begin development of the probe in case the village-sized Bennu asteroid, which was discovered in 1999, starts on a collision course with Earth. 

Although there is only a one in 2,700 chance of it entering our atmosphere, in 2135, Nasa wants to have a plan in place in the event of an emergency. 

Scientists warn there are “countless” undetected objects in space that could threaten life on Earth, the Daily Mail reports. 

Researchers from Nasa and the NNSA will present their research on project Hammer at the Catastrophic Disruption in the Solar System workshop in Kobe, Japan, in May. 

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