February 21st, 2013
03:07 PM ET

How to kill a killer asteroid

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @nova_safo on twitter

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - The meteor that wreaked havoc in Russia last week, shattering windows around a 50-acre area and injuring 1,200 people, was not as big as the asteroids that Dr. Bong Wie of Iowa State University is worried about.

He's researching how to stop one of the 400 asteroids scientists have discovered, which have some chance of crashing into Earth and potentially destroying a city.

Wie has gotten NASA’s attention with a plan that seems right out of the Hollywood blockbuster "Armageddon." He is working on a plan to bury a nuclear bomb into a potentially deadly asteroid and blow it up into tiny pieces:

[1:05] “Our plan is relatively simple. Using a nuclear device and using current spacecraft technology, we will be able to mitigate the impact threat from an asteroid with very short warning time.”

Unlike the movie, Dr. Wie wouldn’t send up a team of oil rig drillers, opting instead for an unmanned satellite on a rocket. The satellite would split into two parts once arriving at the asteroid; the first would burrow a hole and the second would deliver the nuclear bomb.

Wie says he can adapt already-existing technologies developed for space travel and military uses to make his plan work. With a grant from NASA he is now honing his ideas.

Scientists estimate that they have found only about 10 percent of the small- to medium-sized asteroids that can cause regional devastation, and which are the best candidates for Wie’s nuclear plan.

To hear more about Wie’s plan and the potential threat from asteroids, listen to our story above.

For more science news, visit CNN.com/Space.

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soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Dan

    I don't believe than life on Earth will end by a killer asteroid
    what I do believe is the Humans will wipe out any form of lives including ourselves
    in the next 500 years and it will be slow and painful..!!

    lets hope I'm wrong even I never been wrong!!

    February 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mitchell

      you right difference asteroid in space most important how to defense and find another world after earth 01 another victim of asteroid in past million years...

      February 24, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joseph Kibbe

    I call this idea, "Messing with Sasquatch". To me it’s the same as opening Pandora’s Box, if you destroy one rock, you better be ready for a domino effect, and at the worst, a storm of rocks charging for us as if we taunted a bee hive with our little stick.

    We know “very little” of our own environment on this planet, until we reach the center of our own Tootsie roll pop (the core of Earth), and map every square foot of this planet; from our exosphere to the core; and every square foot of the moon and our closest planet Mars, then we will have have learned 0.00000000000000000000001% of our own solar system, and the outcome of blowing a rock up with nuclear fusion.

    “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it…..no…..don’t even mess with it you walking monkeys mimicking other animals, taking credit for inventions and inspirations such as the sword and knife, when in fact, the deer and other animals with horns, was the ones who inspired the sword and the knife. Stop messing with Sasquatch and go back to what you was programmed to do; multiply.”

    February 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph Kibbe

      EDIT: "... and the outcome of blowing a rock up with nuclear fusion." to ".....and the possible, a best guess, outcome of blowing a rock (meteor) up with nuclear fusion. Each rock as a purpose. See this solar system as a house, and you are the guest. "If you come into my house, you can eat from my kitchen, watch my television, play my game system, take the warmth of my fireplace, enjoy my art on the walls. But DON'T mess with the structure of my home......or I will throw you a-s out""

      February 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dog4dog

    the real key to unlocking the universe lies with the sun, energy harvested from the sun will one day move humans into the far reaches of space, just look up into the sky at night and what is the one type of thing you see spread throughout the galaxy, stars, little suns (to us) spread so far apart (trillions of miles) yet identical in appearance to their neighbors, the sun can move and when we get some of its surface matter we will make big leaps, too bad the best we could hope for is some of its gases

    February 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PragmaticWisdom

    The threat of an asteroid strike needs to be considered in context of all other credible global threats to humankind on this planet (e.g. Climate change, epidemics, etc.) – Global leaders need to commit money and brain power to tackling these problems in a prioritized manner. You don't know where an asteroid is going to strike – and if it is big enough – it does not matter where it strikes! It is – therefore – everyone's concern. But – we have limited resources – there is no point in focusing effort and money on something that may happen 100,000 years from now - when there is real threat of climate change staring us in the face within the next 20 – 30 years.

    February 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lee Scharfenberg

    If you would like to know what is possible in space go to the NASA website. I would recommend http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/space_skylon.html. The Reaction Engines videos are inspiring.

    February 23, 2013 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |


    We are not anymore fulls to believe in your develish theory to end this beautiful world just because your
    time is up. It is just the fullfilment of the prophecy.

    If you plan against, the nature is best of planners as you came from nothing to meet it so leave it there. Please.

    February 23, 2013 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • ScepticStill

      if you want your opinion to be accepted as an intelligent contribution to this blog learn to spell
      if you aren't smart enough to use a spellcheck (or, horror of horrors actually use a dictionary) you aren't smart enough to offer an opinion

      February 23, 2013 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
      • ScepticStill

        p.s. ordinary grade school grammar would help too

        February 23, 2013 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
      • Edgecrusher

        Grammar is more of an education issue rather than a lack of intelligence. However, I would say that it is oftentimes indicative to an individual's intelligence, because a self-interested, intelligent person understands the importance to education. Now I just wasted a minute of my time for no reason; therefore, I am an idiot.

        February 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OniSec3

    Mitigate? there is no MITIGATE. either build a large enough weapon "the world" can agree on to combat rocks/metal asteroids of these insane sizes, or grow some damn balls and push for orbital defense platforms with railguns. the TECH IS REAL but by the time people grow a sense of reality when it comes from this issue! Religion makes everyone think we cant get hit from space. like seriously WAKE UP It is only a matter of MATH and TIME.

    February 22, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • G. W. Bush

      The words in CAPS are all I read. Your statement says "Mitigate tech is real. Wake up. Math time."

      February 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • David

        Then you need to go visit the Eye Doctor because I read the whole thing clearly.

        February 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael Andrew Ruzicho

    Using nuclear or atomic weapons would have to be used as a last resort. Having weapons of this danger in space would to be a risk to the planet.

    February 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      There is only one way to fend off an asteroid strike......... and it is definetly Bushmaster assault weapons

      February 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. us_1776

    If you catch it far enough away you can strap a rocket on it and put it into a different trajectory.


    February 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Cascio

      Exactly. Watch any NFL game and you'll discover the the offensive lineman don't tray to knock down an oncoming rucher, they merely work to redirect the opposing player's path. This requires a whole lot less force.

      Attempting to blow up an asteroid with a nuke is just stupid and could have disastorous consequences.

      February 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ted Ward

        Yes, but, these last two meteors were completely unknown. One was noticed only a couple months ago and the Russian one came in without ant warning at all. There would have been no time for a well planned response in either case. The reality is that a nuke is the lightest object with the highest energy per pound known to man. So if it's an issue of deflecting some really massive object coming at us at omg kind of speed, then a nuke would be one of the few tools readily available to use. After all, decades of research and trillions of dollars have gone into building a variety of nuclear devices in a wide
        range of well understood types and capacities one or more of which could be tasked to the job using a variety of approaches. Don't count those nukes out, depending on the situation they could be the only useful tool we have.

        February 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anthony

    Oh, that's easy. Superman.

    ...oh wait.. Superman isn't real. Darn!

    February 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. qqqqqjim

    Two words: BRUCE WILLIS!

    February 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cheapseats2

    Just adhere to the new American method of problem solving: Blame it on your political opponents then ignore it so it becomes the next guy's problem. If it hits while you're in office, point your finger at your predecessor.

    February 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. harmbringer


    actualy? if one were to get them to the astroid, and get them all aimed in the right direction? and fire them off? the recoil force would slowly move the astroid to a new corse..

    though getting them there.. and all pointing the same direction.. would be extreamly hard.

    (i know you were trying to be "smart" but the science behind it would actualy work :p

    February 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • harmbringer

      er.. that was a reply.. grr.

      was to the chap talking about shooting all the guns in this hillbilly nation or some such 😉

      February 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Death Ray

    I've been looking at Jessie Ventura's Haarp vids. Some claim it could be used as a deathray, powerful enough to take out a city, perhaps something the size of our moon.

    I find it inconceivable that in 2013, noone has ever gone forward with Tesla's work.

    I am most probally wrong, but it seems to me, we already have devices, better than what this topic is discussing.

    February 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    ...Wow...some Dr. I can't believe he's suggesting this. If you want to use nukes...detonate one near an astroid...the shock wave mich push it out of the way. Other than that, stay away from nukes. They are worthless. You will NOT blow it to pieces like in the movies. Why not? Because we DON'T live in a movie, sorry. The best way is to alter it's trajectory, and there are plenty of viable options for doing just that.

    February 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • O'drama ya Mama

      yea didnt we learn that blowing into smaller pieces will only cause more damage. Then we have thousands of smaller asteroids to potentially do what the one in russia did

      February 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      His plan is for "small-to-medium-sized asteroids". The goal would be to break them into smaller pieces to mitigate the damage. It wouldn't work for an extinction-sized asteroid.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • O'drama ya Mama

        i know but the one that was over russia was pretty damnn small and look what it did, imagine blowing up a small to medium meteor and having out of the thousand pieces it breaks into at least a dozen the size of the russia one. that would still not be good

        February 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      A nuclear detonation near an asteroid would do virtually nothing to change its course unless the heat of the detonation resulted in an out-gassing or ejection of material from the asteroid so as to alter its course via conversation of momentum. Hollywood was right to point out that "In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream"; a corollary to this is that nuclear devices produce no appreciable shock wave, merely an ejection of heat in the form of high-energy neutrons. The destructive shock wave and coincident mushroom cloud are all due to the Earth's atmosphere and gravitational field, none of which is present in space.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  16. brown

    Humans have demonstrated time and time again that they do not deserve to exist.

    Let the asteroid do what asteroids do!

    February 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Nuclear blasts in space are not as powerful, there are no molecules to push/vibrate as it's in a vacuum.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Speak for yourself. Just save us the trouble and jump off a cliff now. Let adults deal with this.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • 2nd That

        I agree! You do not deserve to exist. Please jump off a cliff ASAP and make a video of it so the world can laugh.

        February 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted Ward

      Since we exist we deserve to exist. How could billions of years of cosmic effort, physics and evolution be wrong?

      February 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Demigod Vadik, CA

    Why is this so hard to make???

    ...just make a ICBM with a Carbon (Diamond) composite head that can penetrate up to 500 feet of rock and then blow up from the inside the asteroid...

    DemigodVadik TM

    February 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • John W.

      Thank you for saying, essentially, exactly what the amazingly short article already said. How about actually reading an article before posting about it?

      February 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Hitting the object by remote control is not as easy to do as it is to imagine.

      More to the point, detonating a nuclear device inside the asteroid may not make a difference. If the asteroid is mostly iron, the result could well be nothing more than thermal cracks in the asteroid which may or may not actually split it, and even if the nuclear detonation does split the asteroid, it may simply reassemble itself under gravitational influence while remaining on the same trajectory.

      The dynamics of a nuclear detonation in the vacuum of space is not the same as in the atmosphere of Earth. There is no shock wave to speak of and hence no impulse other than what may be achieved by ejection of material because of the heat of the explosion.

      Also to consider is the asteroid's rotation. It is not unusual for an asteroid to rotate on all three axes, making a one-two punch maneuver challenging to say the least.

      February 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  18. We are screwed

    A nuclear explosion in space amounts to nothing more that a small scale release of xray radiation. Hardly the thing you need to break up a large asteroid.

    The amount of conventional explosive required to break apart an asteroid would be technically impossible to deliver to the target.

    Breaking apart an asteroid that is large enough to cause a MEE (MASS EXTINCTION EVENT) is always preferable as the end result will be complete end of life on Earth if u do not.

    With current technology, we have zero defense against asteroids 1km across and larger.

    February 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Demigod Vadik, CA

      Why is this so hard???

      ...just make a ICBM with a Carbon (Diamond) composite head that can penetrate up to 500 feet of rock and then blow up from the inside the asteroid...

      DemigodVadik TM

      February 22, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • bawgs

        From what I've heard, the problem with this whole idea is that we then have a bunch of smaller, yet still devastating, pieces that would hit the Earth and still cause major problems. If we know early enough, they think they could use a laser to vent gas from the asteroid which would throw it off course enough to miss our planet.

        February 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
        • lol

          I don't buy that theory...not completely. Depending on the size of the original object, If you can break it up into a bunch of pieces small enough (like the size of the meteor that just came into Russia) then that is much more preferable than combining a dozen or more of those smaller size objects into one by leaving it whole, that won't be affected as much by the earth's atmosphere and therefore do much, much more damage. Now; it you're just breaking a massive object (4 miles wide) into a few 1 mile wide objects, then that wouldn't be any good. It all depends on how small the objects you can make out of the bigger one and how big the original object is to begin with.

          February 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
        • harmbringer

          the most likely option in this case, with huge astroids..

          would be either a gravity tractor (something we can do with our current tech. – basicly park a satalite just off the astroid and allow the extra gravity it has to slowly, pull the astroid to a new orbit.)

          Another option would be a mass driver, land it on the moon, then cut off chucks of the astroid and fire them off into space. the "recoil" would slowly push the astroid into a new orbital path.

          February 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • John W.

      You a nuclear scientist? Even any kind of engineer? Or just talking out of your... ?

      February 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Check again

      Sorry, but that is not true. An atomic explosion in space would be very devastating. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-altitude_nuclear_explosion

      February 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • harmbringer

        yep. it would pack a LOT of force. (infact.. most don't know this but a study was done about useing Nuclear bombs to power a space craft.. look up the Orion project. one could truely move a space ship the size of a city..

        February 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • harmbringer


      a nuclear bomb, going off in space will still have a lot of force behind it, it could shatter an astroid. (depending on size) or give enough force to alter the astroids corse.

      though really, if we see it in time, it be much safer and simpler to just use a gravity tractor. (park a satalite beside the astroid and allow the added gravity of it to slowly pull the astroid off corse.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  19. John john the pipers son

    Maybe you can us all the GUNS in this in-bred hillbilly country to shoot it away. LOL!

    February 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  20. noitall

    But what if the knucklehead calculating the trajectory gets the calculations wrong? Thinking the nuke, or mirror, or whatever will alter its course to miss the earth, whereas it was going to miss anyway, and indeed the global killer is knocked “onto” course towards earth, then what? “Eh…I had a decimal in the wrong place….my bad”

    February 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      By "knucklehead" you mean teams of rocket scientists at NASA.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Bob

    Drill, explode, uncontrolled, etc? If you have the technology to do that, just have the rocket nose-in to the asteroid and re-fire the engines to nudge it off course. Tens of thousands of kph and millions of miles away, it would take barely any force to push it out of a collision trajectory.. Heck, just sitting stationary above the object and allowing gravitational force to pull it out of trajectory would probably work.

    February 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Havok

      lol – what?

      February 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lokari

        Not sure what part made you LOL. Bob is quite correct – given enough warning, meaning the asteroid is suitably far away, one would only have to make a tiny alteration to its trajectory to have a huge effect on the path it would take by the time it got here.

        February 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bob

        "lol" – is that where you got your physics degree, with a focus on astrophysics? I got mine elswhere.

        February 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  22. jeru

    I'd be worried about the nuclear bomb not detonating. Then we'd have a nuclear asteroid heading towards our planet. Talk about a bad day.

    February 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Hmmm?

    If they could land a drilling device on the asteroid couldn’t it be configured to eject the material as it drills down in such a matter to alter the course of the asteroid eliminating the need for nuke?

    February 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Ted

    Space Conkers!

    February 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Ted

    Some travel at 30km per second that's a bullet. You would need to track these as early as possible, I suggest some kind of high velocity rocket harpoon with a (metal composite) space parachute/sail capable of not only taking weight but to slow it. Why destroy something that you can capture? Once captured, it may even be possible to turn a smaller asteroid into some kind of space tugboat fitted with ultra shock absorbent rub rail/tyres to take on the bigger ones.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |

      I was going to say that.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ted

        I hope you don't have nut allergies.

        February 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • SmellyRhinoBoss

      Space parachute? Space is a vacuum, there is no friction. You would need to alter its trajectory by either blowing it up (hence the nuke) or landing a probe on it and use fuel to push its trajectory. The later wouldn't be feasible as you would need a hell of a lot of fuel.

      February 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • really?

        Its called a solar sail buddy, and there is such a thing as "Solar Wind" 🙂

        February 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Johnnyboy

    We could also build a spaceship that is clear with white outlines and send it into space and award points to the pilots for every big or small asteroid destroyed. We can play 70s sci-fi music in the pilot's cabin.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Big Joe

    I don't want to close my eyes! I don't want to fall asleep! Cause I'll miss you baby, and I don't want to miss a thing!

    February 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  28. datruth

    Can someone help me? I though nuclear explosions in space were in possible, because there is no air. Am I wrong?

    February 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • datruth

      ** impossible (cellphones....)

      February 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hamlet

      If that were the case the big bang theory and super nova's are just figments of our imagination.

      Space isn't just a void between celestial bodies, it is made up of many things including Hydrogen, helium and molecules of oxygen, dust etc.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy73

      Nuclear explosions are not based on fire. They don't require air. The sun is a nuclear (fusion) explosion in space.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • freeme10

        Oxygen – not air.

        February 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • EricTheEngr

      Air isn't needed for a nuclear explosion. Nuclear bombs and hydrogen bombs create large amounts of energy by converting matter into energy, so they don't need oxygen – nothing is actually burning. Actually, most explosives don't need air because the oxygen for the explosion is supplied by chemical oxidizers. That's how fishing with dynamite works.

      February 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarylandBill

      Nuclear explosions are possible, but unlike on Earth a near miss won't cut it. On Earth, much of the damage is caused by a shockwave that propagates through our atmosphere. In space that shockwave won't exist and therefore the primary cause of damage will be radiant energy; probably not enough to destroy most asteroids on a near miss. But all of this assumes the bomb is not in contact with the asteroid when it explodes. If it is in contact, then it can do a lot more damage. Small asteroids like the ones that have been in the news will likely be destroyed. With larger asteroids they can actually make the situation worse.

      February 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • nuclear explosions in space

      The Sun would be a nuclear explosions in space. 🙂

      February 25, 2013 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  29. Bubba

    I haven't read this whole thread, so apologies if someone already mentioned this, but the first thing I thought about after reading this article was radioactivity. By blasting a rock with a nuclear weapon, we would be creating a huge cloud of highly radioactive space dust and thousands or millions of space rocks of varying sizes. I'd worry about the health effects of earth passing through such a cloud of radioactive dust, and I'd about showers fo radioactive meteors. Even if these metiors burned up in our atmosphere, they'd still leave radiation behind.

    It would make more sense to me to assemble and launch a rocket engine from the ISS that could push any threatening asteroud out of its current path.


    February 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy73

      I don't think you have much to worry about considering we've detonated over 500 nuclear weapons in the atmosphere already. The Earth plowing through the debris from one more won't matter much.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarylandBill

      Scattered over the entire planet, the radioactive fallout from even a handful of such destructions would be negligible. Heck, more radioactive particles are released into the atmosphere from coal fired power plants than from either Chernobyl or Fukushima.

      February 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • SmellyRhinoBoss

      The earth is protected by the magnetosphere. Without it, the radiation from the sun alone would fry all life on this planet. Any radiation from nukes in space would be deflected by the magnetosphere. Ever wonder what the aurora borealis is? I'll give you a hint, its cosmic radiation.

      February 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lokari

        While the magnetic field does protect us from cosmic radiation, that is quite a different thing than radioactive particles and debris, which is what Bubba was referring to. However, as others have noted, the radioactivity would be a negligible concern.

        February 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Atari

    I destroyed thousands of asteroids in Arcades in the 80's so I've got this covered.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  31. garrett

    blowing up an asteroid has been proven as an ineffective method. it would create a bunch of small meteors instead of one big one- that doesn't solve much. and how would u drill into an asteroid made or iron or nickel? and how do you determine how much explosives to use? this article leaves out so much info. The writer must've just watch Armageddon for the first time.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Metroid

    Easy enough...just get Harry Stamper and AJ up there with Rockhound sitting on the nuclear warhead.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Toolmantim

    Probably not a good idea to try and blow it up. for one thing, you have to know what the astroid is made of. If it is made of a cluster of rocks and you try and blow it up , it would just come back together again. If it were a solid mass astroid, if you were able to set of a explosion powerful enough to blow it up, then you would have several small astroid peices coming to Earth that could do even more damage. A more realistic idea would be to send a rocket or rockets to the astroid, not to destroy it, but to gently push the astroid out of the way of earth. If you alter the astroids path, even a little, it could be enough to avoid a collision with earth. Or possibly we could send a "solar sail" to attach to the astroid and gently pull it away. The key is to detect the astroid while it is far enough away to actually do something before it is to close.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  34. LongBeachBum

    It has been proven more than once that a bomb will do little or nothing to a meteor of any size and the smaller ones can not be detected until the strike the earth. Trying to bomb one would be extremely difficult at best. First you have to determine its course after you find it. Next you would have to plan the flight and third you would have to figure out how to deliver the payload in a spot that would destroy it. Right now bombing a meteor is like throwing a ladyfinger at a house. The only logical way to deal with one if you have time is to attach a rocket engine and push it off course. That is once you have stabilized it, attached the engine and set the course that would deflect it. Right now we have none of those things available or on the shelf to do the job.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      I disagree – if we were to detect it far enough in advance, a nuclear weapon with the force directed in the correct direction would most likely modify the asteroid's trajectory. Even the smallest modification far enough out would most likely cause it to change it's trajectory to miss earth.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • colin in Florida

      Actually, Ph.D. grad student recently won a prize for developing a novel method of redirecting an asteroid-White Paint. A rocket carrying a large 'paint ball' would hit the asteroid. Turning one side white would cause photons of light from the sun to bounce off the asteroid, instead of being absorbed. Now, each photon weighs very, very little, but the Sun puts out trillions per second. And given sufficient time, the asteroid would slowly be pushed into a different orbit. This is not a joke, he won an international physics competition with this idea.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • ESTUBON

        "PAINT IT WHITE"?????? What a pansey!!!! Nuke it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        February 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  35. I AM NOT

    Must we kill everything ?

    February 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |

      Yes, the 2nd amendment covers state militia's right to kill asteroids.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Emigdio Alvarez

    Here's an idea: how about getting an crew of oil rig drillers to drill into the asteroid, drop a nuke, and get out before it explodes?

    February 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      You didn't read or listen to the article did you?

      February 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anom

      I see what you did there...lol

      February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  37. steven dahl

    Have we considered that NO gov't or scientist was able to warn the Russian people about this huge meteor? These scientists are so stupid that they can't detect a huge meteor but they want us to believe they can send an unmanned satellite to bury a nuclear bomb on an asteriod! LOL

    February 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • WallyTA

      It wasn't huge......

      February 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Pwned

        That's what she said....BOOM.

        February 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjacja

      You have it backwards. The one the exploded over Russia was "small". It only broke some windows and a couple brick walls. We can't detect these small ones. And there are not worth blowing up either. But larger ones are different, they are easier to see before they get close and will do more damgae than just breaking windows. The REALLY large ones are different agin, they are to big to blow up and would do global scale damage but there are very few of these. It is the mid-size that he is taking about

      February 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eaz

      Mr. Steven Dahl,
      Try using the internet to educate yourself instead of ....

      February 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jas Rox

      There are more people working full time in your local McD's than there are looking for NEO (Near Earth Objects). We spend about $20M yearly on this. Jay-Z spends more on Beyonce. With better radar systems for close range, and more telescopes for longer distance detection, we might have seen that rock. However, it was coming from the direction of the sun, and that makes it very tough due to the sun's glare. That Friday saw THREE episodes: The 49 footer over Russia, the 150 footer that missed us by 17,000 miles, and one that smoked over San Francisco about 10:48 EST. If we do not stop our bickering and look to the skies, we might all go the way of the dinosaurs!!!!!

      February 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • AstroBoy

      @Steven Dhal, The object that exploded over Siberia last week was approximately 55 feet long (about the size of an 18 wheeler) not large by any stretch of the imagination. It is very hard to find such objects. Asteroid 2012 DA that passed @ 17,000 miles over the surface of the earth was about 3 times larger (say the size of a medium sized building). We knew about that about 8 or 9 months in advance.

      If we gave as much consideration and money to finding these cosmic bullets as we do the Olympics, we'd find a lot more of them. But the various world governments do not see the need to spend the money that way and so we act surprised when we get hit.

      It's only a matter of time before a sizeable rock hits the earth and does major damage. I only hope we find them and fomulate a working plan to alter it's trajectory before it hits.

      February 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Oscar Pitchfork

    This is complete b u l l $ H ! T ! The first part "burrows" a hole" In a , perhaps, nickel-iron asteroid? You'ld have to launch a multi-ton, hardened, special-alloy widget like what they shoot form an Abrams tank, only feet in diameter, tens of feet in lenght, and tons or tens of tons in mass, to "burrow a hole". I sure wish they let real technologists write this stuff, instead of the ball-scratchin' tools they have now.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Todd

    shattering windows around a 50-acre area , lol. Who the hell writes these? Darn thing shattered windows 30 miles in every direction from the explosion 25 miles up.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • FoolKiller

      I wondered when I read that. 50 acres just isn't that big... you could walk from one corner to the opposite in 10 minutes.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Beakman

    Have they considered forecasting the trajectory of the asteroid that would possibly destroy a city and make preparations to determine where could the impact occur and how to mitigate losses if it gets to impact the earth? It's always good to have a plan C if B doesn't work and A's nowhere close to being possibly executed. I think those type of questions are what we have to worry about, and start acting on them.... instead of engaging in political, religious or personal famous gratification tiring old school vendetta.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjacja

      Yes. They always do that but as it turns out never once so far has an impact been predicted. But yes one of the first things one does after discovering a new object is determine it's orbit and then watch it and refine the orbit.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Joe

      Maybe they shouldn't put cities in spots where asteroids could land! What were these people thinking!

      February 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Langkard

    Blowing up the asteroid with a nuclear device has one negative which Dr. Wie doesn't address: public paranoia about launching nuclear materials into space. Remember the vocal protests just about launching exploratory satellites which use small nuclear sources for power? The public won't stand for launching an entire nuclear weapon into space. One might argue that the public would go for it if in imminent danger of an asteroid strike; but the best place to have a device such as Dr. Wie envisions would already be in space, long before it is needed. And, of course, Congress would have to approve and those guys are demonstrably ignorant. There is even a guy on the House Science and Technology Committee who has stated publicly that the Earth is only 6000 years old. Too much of an uphill battle to deal with those twits, who would only pull their heads out if it were the absolute last minute. Far too late to deal with a dangerous asteroid.

    I think a better option would be to develop and launch automated satellite fuel factories. These would be designed to mine the asteroid materials for the simple ingredients needed to make rocket fuel – hydrogen and oxygen – which are abundant in most asteroids. Design the self-fueling rocket factories to land on an asteroid years in advance of when it might be a threat. It manufactures its own rocket fuel and then ignites, slowly but steadily changing the trajectory of the asteroid until it will no longer be a future threat. Better yet, change the trajectories enough that the asteroids can be parked into easy to reach but non-threatening orbits where they can then be mined for things like rare platinum group metals which are also found in asteroids.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      Yes make up a public paranoia with launching nuclear devices into space. It doesn't exist.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  42. empresstrudy

    Well we DO have a black President. Check that off and look for Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • FoolKiller

      You raise a valid point. No cities were damaged by meteors before Obama took office...

      February 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  43. ketsui7

    This is so absurd to even read does the guy suggesting this know that these asteroids travel at speeds 8 times the speed of a bullet. PLEASE tell me how you are going to get your little drilling machine up to that velocity with such precision that it can latch onto the asteroid

    February 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ketsui7

      think dr bong been hitting that bong a bit too much

      February 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dead Cheese

        Once in space, there is little resistance to slow you down. Achieving speeds which equal or exceed that of an errant asteroid is well within current capabilities. In fact, it has already been done with the Deep Impact mission in which a probe was intentionally crashed into a comet in order to give clues to its composition. The Deep Impact spacecraft has also observed other comets and is now on its way to visit an asteroid. Furthermore, the Dawn spacecraft just completed its study of Vesta last year and is en route to Ceres as I write this.

        February 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ramos

        Its not the speed thats the problem here, bullet speeds are easy to match in space, the Apollo rockets reached 34 times a pistol bullets speed iirc. The problem is the asteroid is likely spinning at outrageous speeds, making it tough to match that speed while drilling the hole with what I assume will be a laser. Further more if the nuke doesnt make it into the core or some radio disturbance in the asteroid cuts the signal, then we are boned. We need about 10 time backup vessels for it, making it even more unlikely.

        February 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjacja

      How fast do you think Mars is moving, or the moon. Both have had launders on them. Yes you have to match the speed perfectly. There are current and planned asteroid missions and landings already. So your objection has been proven wrong by actual experience. Yes it is hard to do but has been done already several times.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • FoolKiller

      It's really very simple. We just need faster bullets... then it doesn't sound nearly as daunting.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      You do know rockets travel faster than bullets right?

      February 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  44. David

    Wouldn't using a nuclear weapon against a killer asteroid just break it up into smaller, but still big enough large chunks that would only enlarge the problem of fragments to still crash onto the surface of the Earth and could still cause extensive damage?

    February 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      The hope would be that the smaller pieces would have a large dispersement pattern, and those would most burn up in the atmosphere (If not missing the planet altogether). Yes, it is possible that the resulting pieces would each be big enough to cause significant damage, but many smaller hits would be much less devastating than one massive impact.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard Markowitz

      Bingo! Absolutely correct, according to the Science channel. If we blow up an asteroid relatively close to the Earth, the damage caused by the many thousands of smaller pieces would be far worse. As proposed by the scientists on the program, it would be far better to launch a large mirror to the asteroid. While matching its speed it can reflect sunlight onto the rock. At the extreme heat the mirrored light would create, parts of the rock would burn off and the inertia created would alter the trajectory. The farther out from Earth that this is done, we would only have to alter that trajectory a small amount for its course to change enough and miss the Earth. Gotta love the Science Channel

      February 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Uncle Spooge

    FOR F*s sake can we have one story about a meteor that doesn't reference F*ing Armageddon or Bruce Willis?

    February 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Jerry Okamura

    All you have to know is they "think" they know how to accomplish this feat, they do not know with any degree of certainty that they CAN stop one of these things from hitting earth. And even then, it depends on the size of the object. If it is too big, their plan won't work either.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnConnor

      I'd rather have them "think" and try than do nothing.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjacja

      As it turns out the "nuke option" is only good for the mid size asteroids. They would have little effect of the larger new and are not needed for the smallest ones. But, also as it turnes out the mid size one far outnumber the huge ones, so the idea works for most cases.

      The real problem is even a big Nuke does not make the asteroid disappear. All it does is turn a big one into a bunch of small ones, so you'd get many broken windows but hopefully no missing city. After the explosion the bits of rock will have totally unpredictable paths but at least each bit os smaller.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Semaj001

    For the skeptics that say there is no difference between one big rock and the same mass of smaller ones hitting the earth, that is mostly true – if it would happen that way. Consider, however, the fact that only a very slight change in velocity would make an object completely miss the planet. While the average trajectory of the little rocks is the same as the original, almost none of them still possess that trajectory. Therefore, the remains of the asteroid mostly miss us, although the debris now has a much larger chance of taking out a satellite or two.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ryan

      Smaller pieces would burn up in our atmosphere where a big one would get through and do damage.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Joe

    It wouldn't take much to nudge these smaller objects into a different path. Why not just send a high powered rocket up and push the object just enough to change its path? An explosion would fragment the object and send thousands of particles back at us.

    If it was a huge object like moon sized, no nuclear blast(s) would do anything to help us.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      We could fight back with that one thing that is even bigger – Donald Trump's ego.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex H

      The problem with this idea is that you would need a very large amount of fuel in order to alter the path of an asteroid of the size being discussed. Simply getting that amount of fuel into orbit, let alone out of our orbit entirely to set up on an incoming asteroid would be extremely difficult. That's why most of the time when you hear about asteroid diversion policies most of them utilize things like early detection and application of solar sails or reflective painting on the asteroids surface to let solar winds effect the change in momentum necessary to cause the rock to miss us. Of course these options wouldn't be feasible last minute, so we may need to rely on the extremely high energy/mass output of nuclear devices to divert these objects.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  49. svann

    I wonder how Dr Bong came up with that idea?

    February 22, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      The idea is old. It is his delivery method that is of interest.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Elisabeth

      Maybe Dr Bong can deliver one of them there bombs for my husbands ASSteriods. hahhahaaa

      February 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  50. svann

    Huh. I would have expected that since its still the same mass that breaking it into pieces would not help. If it was anyone but nasa Id be mocking the idea.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Oops. How did I misread that. Its just some guy.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      It makes an incredible difference. If I hit you with a ton of feathers one at a time or I drop a ton of feathers on you all at once you would notice the difference.
      A whole bunch of smaller rocks entering the atmosphere is called a meteor shower and is quite pretty. One big one can destroy a city. Not pretty at all.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Smaller fragments = Win

      The smaller fragments would be more likely to burn up or burst rather than remain intatc as a complete object. So they might scare us a little like the one in Russia but they wont kill anyone.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • cjacja

      Yes the same mass, but much smaller mass the surface area ratio. Think of the best case a 100 meter diameter rock is reduced to sand and ALL of that sand hits the Earth. The sand would burn up and cause nothing worse than a fire works show. The same mass in one rock would make a crater. Likely a nuked asteroid would have its piece fly off in all directions and only some would hit the Earth

      February 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Halleys Comet

    This plan would only work for smaller asteroids and the not the big ones capable of killing the planet.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Yep, that is why they said that in the article.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  52. Garth Bock

    Ohhhh good.....blow up an asteroid with a nuclear bomb...that way we don't get hit with one big rock but a whole pile of smaller rocks that spread the devastation over a much wider area and with nuclear contamination too ! This idea was proposed long ago and dismissed because of the varying types of asteroids from stoney to ruble pile. The good doctor has been watching too many sci-fi movies. If one is discovered late in the game the best way is deflection by detonation close to the asteroid or at least aim it where it will cause the least damage or the greater good. Hey Taliban...if you see American forces leaving quickly....worry.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      You do understand that a whole lot of little rocks are FAR less dangerous than 1 or 2 big ones right? I big one is called a bomb, a bunch of little ones are called a meteor shower.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Engineer

      This idea is certainly a little crazy, but it does have a few potential merits. (1) If done correctly, it could alter the course of the remaining parts, forcing them to miss the planet. (2) Breaking a big asteroid into pieces will increase its surface area, thereby increasing the amount burned up in the atmosphere. The smaller pieces won't even impact. If you can successfully break it into lots of little pieces, there's the chance of avoiding impact. But even with impact, several smaller meteors will likely cause less damage than one giant one. Still, there are probably better ways to make it miss us.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Your comment illustrates why we need to leave room for some rocks to get through.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  53. plumbine

    The Bible in Revelations warns us of a huge Asteroid that will hit earth during the Great Tribulation period that is coming........Turn from sin and Trust in Jesus today...........He will come into your heart if you sincerely ask Him, by giving you the Holy Spirit and Eternal Life..


    .........Revelation8: 8-11........8 The second angel blew his trumpet. Then something that looked like a big mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea. And a third of the sea became blood. 9 And a third of the created beings in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Stop reading the science articles on CNN and go back to the comic book section.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • ketsui7

        bwahahhaha. oh crap we are sinners , my computer chair is heating up

        February 22, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bry77

      plumbine, you sound just like a terrorist

      February 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • karlotious

      I have an idea.... you can pray for god to somehow change physics and divert the asteroid and i will work with the scientists to eliminate the threat. I wonder which one has a higher success rate.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • eljesus

      The bible is a silly book of fairy-tales.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mugikomugi

      And lo, a book of fantasy was given to men, to control the weak minded, and that book shall be called "the Bible" and so enchanted will those of small mind be, that they will comment on the web with meaningless quotes that the pope doth make up to scare those he would someday wish to molest. Grabby grabby eeek!

      February 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Thunderplug


        February 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dwight

        This shows how little you know of the bible and its origins and all of its thousands of manuscripts and how that the Bible is regarded as the best historical document for finding lost ancient civilizations. Lost and defunct rivers described in the Bible have been found. The Middle East as the cradle of life. You can dispute all you want, but that is because you don't believe in anything, except what you see now and yet we still don't know what dark matter is, what keeps atoms together and what keeps the universe in constant and yet somehow you believe that these are real. It is called Faith.

        February 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
        • Howard Markowitz

          No, it is called scientific research. Mankind is still in its infancy in understanding the universe. Gravity is still called the Theory of Gravity because maybe someplace in the universe it does not hold true. It's people like you with a limited understanding of what is possible, even though we cannot understand it yet, that immediately turn to god for answers. A being made up by man to quell his insecurities and has no evidence of his existence.

          February 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
        • WhatsamattaU

          Dwight. Apples and oranges, any ancient historical document such as the bible will be useful in locating things that have eroded away, been overgrown, etc. The bible, being a rather large set of documents, will be better than most at this. However, its purpose and focus was not on geological formations, etc. The authors knew nothing of such things anyway. A series of antebellum-like romance novels could have accomplished the same thing. One can not serious argue the value of the bible lies in it's ability to help us locate ancient sites, etc. That's just silly and sadly desperate.

          What many find objectionable about slavish quoting from the bible is the fundamental premise, that is that events in the universe are controlled by a supreme being for which not one iota of evidence exists.

          In a lighter vein, I'd like the military researchers to find a way to subdivide a meteor into hundreds of independent reentry vehicles targeting the taliban and al qaeda. "Hey, wasn't us, looks like an act of Allah. Guess he wasn't so happy with you folks."

          February 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ketsui7

      thanks for the laugh bwahahaha. how much is the going rate for teeth under my pillow these days? could use some extra money and i heard the tooth fairy had to adjust for inflation

      February 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dwight

      All of Relevations past ch.3 is not literal in meaning. A third in the Bible is relative to a portion of something. People pick and choose what they want to be literal and what they don't want to be literal and thus you have certain people being the anti-Christ and then when they pass away or fade away, then they go on the next person. People need to stop looking for future signs of destruction and just look to God who is salvation.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • WhatsamattaU

        Dwight, perhaps your first language isn't English, but I had some trouble following your logic there. There are sections of the bible that are literal, and sections that are not, is that it? Why aren't these sections flagged? Look, if you're going to sit on your ass as one of these big rocks comes hurtling towards Earth, assuming that God's going to take care of it (or not?), please get the hell out of the way, some of us would like to try to save the planet if possible.

        February 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  54. roid rage

    Whenever my asteroids flare up I make a mess outta the toilet seat.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Hot Carl

      Blood or stool?

      February 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Bill39

    Certainly a good thing to look at.

    February 22, 2013 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  56. jasper johns

    I just read a funny book about an asteroid heading toward earth and how people deal with it, it's called THE MYOSHI EFFECT. Reminded me of what just happened.

    February 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |