Australian researchers are warning that Itokawa, a titanic asteroid shaped like a pile of rocks, would be anything but easy to destroy if it were to come our way.
According to a recent study, Itokawa, a titanic meteorite the size of four Eiffel Towers, would be “very difficult to destroy.” The asteroid would be collision resistant.
The size of 12 soccer fields
The DART mission has inoculated us somewhat against the threat of a real Armageddon. The U.S. space agency NASA succeeded in deflecting the trajectory of a cosmic rock by crashing the Dart spacecraft into it.
Diamorphos, as it was called, was in orbit around our planet. It is now deflected trajectory means it sails through space far from Earth, but how would we deal with an asteroid much larger than this one?
That’s the question researchers asked themselves in light of the celestial body, which is the size of 12 soccer fields. The new study, conducted by experts from Australia’s Curtin University, analyzed samples from Itokawa collected by the Japanese Hayabusa probe and returned to Earth in 2010.
A “potentially hazardous” asteroid
Based on the analyses conducted by the astronomers, the celestial body in question must be classified as “potentially hazardous.” Although the asteroid is 2 million kilometres away, it could cause great damage if it reaches Earth. We have enough time to see it coming, but this distance is nothing compared to the rest of the universe.
Unlike monolithic asteroids, Itokawa is not a single rich block but belongs to the debris family, which means it is composed entirely of loose blocks of rock, nearly half of which are voids.
In plain English, since the asteroid is not a single block, the probes used to redirect its trajectory could fly through it or even bounce off it! “We found out that Itokawa is like a kind of giant pillow. It would be very difficult to destroy it.” said the researcher. Aside from that, there are other techniques to deflect meteors.
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