Asteroids have hit the Earth before and it is possible they could again. Although, preparation and small interventions could make the difference for humans to avoid total annihilation. A research team from the National Institute of Natural Hazards in China has recently constructed a computer model that may just help us steer clear of this catastrophe.
The simulation started as a way to replicate what has previously happened when asteroids hit the Earth. “From these models, we learn generally about a destructive impact process, and crater formation,” said Duoxing Yang, first author of the study. “And from crater morphologies, we could learn impact environment temperatures and its velocity.”
Exploring metal asteroids
The AI program, published in AIP Advances, was built using NASA’s space-time conservation element and solution element method, also used by many government organizations and universities. The difference between Yang’s simulation and previous models created is its ability to compare both rocky and metal asteroid impacts.
NASA is currently preparing for its Psyche mission, aiming to explore an asteroid entirely made of metal. Little is known about these denser formations compared to rock asteroids which are made with the same materials as the Earth’s crust. Scientists think metal asteroids are made from materials similar to the Earth’s inner core. Therefore, the NASA mission may uncover the secrets to the inner workings of our planet. This new impact simulation is being used to assist their project.
How can we apply this knowledge?
Yang believes developing simulations such as these can give answers to many unknown questions about asteroid impacts. He stated: “What kind of geochemistry components will be generated after impacts? What kinds of impacts result in good or bad consequences to the local climate? Can we change the trajectory of asteroids heading to us?”
Source study: AIP Advances – Numerical modeling of laboratory-scale asteroid impact based on elastoplastic flow model and CESE method