A new study released by a team of researchers from the John Hopkins University revealed that Earth’s current proposed defense mechanisms against a massive asteroid are useless in preventing a catastrophic impact event. According to the researchers, there is a need for space agencies such as NASA to rethink their understanding of the composition of asteroids.

The study was published in the scientific journal Icarus. Members of the research team, including Charles El Mir, KT Ramesh and Derek C. Richardson, were able to come up with their findings by creating a new computer model based on the current asteroid defense systems.

Aside from early detection, one of NASA’s proposed solutions against an asteroid strike is to launch a projectile into space in the hopes of destroying the object or altering its course.

For the study, the researchers simulated an impact between a massive asteroid and a smaller object. The model showed an asteroid with a diameter of 0.6 miles colliding with another space rock that’s 15.5 miles long while traveling at a speed of 3.1 miles per second.

Contrary to previous theories, the collision didn’t cause the bigger asteroid to break apart completely. Instead, it only partially cracked. In addition, since the impact didn’t have a huge effect on the asteroid, it will most likely still stay on its current path.

“We used to believe that the larger the object, the more easily it would break, because bigger objects are more likely to have flaws,” El Mir said in a statement. “Our findings, however, show that asteroids are stronger than we used to think and require more energy to be completely shattered.”

The researchers noted that the findings of their study should serve as a wake-up call for Earth to improve its understanding of asteroids in order to come up with a practical and effective solution to prevent a massive impact event.

According to Ramesh, coming up with a solid plan against asteroids is a pressing matter since Earth is always in danger of experiencing an impact scenario.

“It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat,” Ramesh said.

Asteroid Impact September 2015
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