The earth has been regularly visited by asteroids in the past with cataclysmic consequences. We do not know when the next visit will be, but we are sure that it will inevitably come. So humanity is preparing for such an eventuality.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) announced on Wednesday that it has been studying Mars’ moon Phobos with the help of computer modelling and has come to the conclusion that it has a connection in keeping the earth safe from life-threatening asteroids.
Phobos, the strange and irregularly shaped moon of Mars, has a huge crater five miles across its face and computer modelling hint that it could have been formed by an impact of a massive asteroid 820 feet across and been travelling at a speed of about 13,420 mph.
The research has been a part of a program for the protection of Earth from such devastating impact. The computer simulation has demonstrated that such a significant impact will create such a crater without destroying the moon. The computer simulation took into account the porosity and resolution in 3D simulation.
According to LLNL, the foreign object which crashed on Phobos created a Stickney crater. The work has been published in the Geophysical Research Letters. The latest experiments are a part of Code Spheral and form a part of a broad planetary defence initiative. It is a two-pronged strategy and is conducted under the auspices of the US Department of Energy.
While NASA is keeping an eye on such bodies which have a potential to collide with the planet, the LLNL is more concerned with devising methods to deflect the body from harm’s way. It could involve ramming a spacecraft onto the body or exploding an atomic device near the asteroid which will heat up a part and would create a rocket-like an effect which will propel it from harm’s way. Another method will be to grab the boulder and park it in a lunar orbit.