Washington: Nuclear bombs - itself a threat to the humanity - to save the earth from dangerous space rocks?
Sounds like a new science-fiction movie but if we believe scientists, this is possible.
Researcher Bong Wie and his team from Iowa State University is developing a concept spacecraft called 'Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle', or HAIV.
The HAIV would rendezvous with an asteroid in deep space and send a kinetic impactor barrelling into the object to blast out a crater.
The nuclear bomb on board the vehicle would follow one millisecond behind - perhaps attached via a long boom, or perhaps flying freely - and then detonate inside the hole, shattering the asteroid into millions of tiny pieces.
"Some of the asteroid fragments may still impact earth, but the effects are likely to be minimal," Wie added.
"We have the solution to mitigate the asteroid-impact threat with any range of warning," said Wie at a NASA meeting recently.
Wie presented latest findings after a previously undetected 65-foot-wide space rock detonated in the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,500 people.
The Russian meteor explosion last year was a wake-up call about the threat earth faces from incoming space rocks.
It's just a matter of time before earth gets hit again and the next strike may inflict far more damage, Wie added.
"We need to be worried when a dangerous asteroid is coming towards the earth with much less time to spare - say less than a year. And nuclear bombs are the best answer," stressed Wie.
Wie suggests that the HAIV concept be coupled with an asteroid-warning system.
"If our system is going to be built, tested pre-deployed and ready to be launched at any time, then we solve the problem," he said.