Cosmic bombardment V: Threat object-dispersing approaches to active planetary defense

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Earth-impacting comets and asteroids with diameters {approx}0.03 - 10 km pose the greatest threats to the terrestrial biosphere in terms of impact frequency-weighted impact consequences, and thus are of most concern to designers of active planetary defenses. Specific gravitational binding energies of such objects range from 10{sup -7} to 10{sup -2} J/gm, and are small compared with the specific energies of 1x10{sup 3} to 3x10{sup 3} J/gm required to vaporize objects of typical composition or the specific energies required to pulverize them, which are 10{sup -1} to 10 J/gm. All of these are small compared to the specific kinetic energy ... continued below

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44 p.

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Teller, E.; Wood, L.; Ishikawa, M. & Hyde, R. May 24, 1995.

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  • Teller, E.
  • Wood, L. Stanford Univ., CA (United States). Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
  • Ishikawa, M. Stanford Univ., CA (United States). Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Hyde, R. Lawrence Livermore National Lab., CA (United States)

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Earth-impacting comets and asteroids with diameters {approx}0.03 - 10 km pose the greatest threats to the terrestrial biosphere in terms of impact frequency-weighted impact consequences, and thus are of most concern to designers of active planetary defenses. Specific gravitational binding energies of such objects range from 10{sup -7} to 10{sup -2} J/gm, and are small compared with the specific energies of 1x10{sup 3} to 3x10{sup 3} J/gm required to vaporize objects of typical composition or the specific energies required to pulverize them, which are 10{sup -1} to 10 J/gm. All of these are small compared to the specific kinetic energy of these objects in the Earth- centered frame, which is 2x10{sup 5} to 2x10{sup 6} J/gm. The prospect naturally arises of negating all such threats by deflecting, pulverizing or vaporizing the objects. Pulverization-with-dispersal is an attractive option of reasonable defensive robustness. Examples of such equipments - which employ no explosives of any type - are given. Vaporization is the maximally robust defensive option, and may be invoked to negate threat objects not observed until little time is left until Earth-strike, and pulverization-with-dispersal has proven inadequate. Physically larger threats may be vaporized with nuclear explosives. No contemporary technical means of any kind appear capable of directly dispersing the -100 km diameter scale Charon- class cometary objects recently observed in the outer solar system, although such objects may be deflected to defensively useful extents. Means of implementing defenses of each of these types are proposed for specificity, and areas for optimization noted. Biospheric impacts of threat object debris are briefly considered, for bounding purposes. Experiments are suggested on cometary and asteroidal objects.

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44 p.

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OSTI as DE97052672

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  • Planetary defense workshop, Livermore, CA (United States), 22-26 May 1995

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  • Other: DE97052672
  • Report No.: UCRL-JC--125422
  • Report No.: CONF-9505266--5
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 509521
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc696519

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  • May 24, 1995

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Aug. 14, 2015, 8:43 a.m.

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  • Feb. 16, 2016, 6:11 p.m.

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Teller, E.; Wood, L.; Ishikawa, M. & Hyde, R. Cosmic bombardment V: Threat object-dispersing approaches to active planetary defense, article, May 24, 1995; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc696519/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.