Speaking on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked his opinions on Elon Musk’s idea of nuking Mars. Dr Tyson, who has been credited by NASA for his work in space exploration, explained to viewers why the concept should not be ignored. However, the 60-year-old proposed his own theory on how to colonise the Red Planet.
He said earlier this month: “I don’t think we should think of the idea as a literal thing, but more a general principle of what we want to accomplish.
“You want to warm it [Mars], you want to protect what could be the future of biochemistry and then you seed it.
“Then you wait, you don’t want to wait too long, you want to wake it up and then you terraform Mars.
“We think there’s a lot of water that was once on Mars that’s just sitting below in a permafrost.”
Many asteroids could strike Earth
Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars
We are in the shooting path of thousands of asteroids
Dr Tyson claimed either an asteroid or comet could be used to achieve the goal, after revealing a slightly worrying claim.
He added: “There are comets everywhere, we know how to do it but there is no real incentive.
“It happens with or without us as we are in the shooting path of thousands of asteroids and comets.
“So what we would do is find one that is heading close to us anyway and in the seventh orbit down the line, or the hundredth orbit down the line.
“Then we would slightly deflect it in such a way that it would then collide with Mars.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks it would be better to use an asteroid
Dr Tyson finalised his idea by detailing how asteroids may come to help Earth in the future, the same way many scientists believe they did millions of years ago.
He concluded: “Or even Earth if you want, if we needed some more fresh water.
“The problem is, if something really big that would fill lakes collided with Earth, that would just be bad for life on Earth.
“It’s a spontaneous deposit of energy that could change the climate.
“So you want to do that on a planet you are trying to terraform.”
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Dr Tyson was speaking on his StarTalk show
He revealed there are thousands of asteroids that could hit Earth
The plan comes after NASA received a warning over the “most dangerous space rock” heading to Earth.
Asteroid 101955 Bennu, formally known as 1999 RQ36, is a potentially hazardous object listed on the Sentry Risk Table with the second-highest cumulative rating on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale.
Investigators have already warned the space agency that it could be devastating if they do not act.
According to a study by scientist Maria Eugenia Sansaturio the 1999 asteroid may impact the Earth.
There are many asteroids in the Solar System
Dr Sansaturio warned in a report for the Solar System journal Icarus that there is a good chance of the asteroid striking.
She told Universe Today in 2010: “The total impact probability of asteroid 1999 RQ36 can be estimated as 0.00092, approximately one-in-a-thousand chance, but what is most surprising is that over half of this chance (0.00054) corresponds to 2182.”
However, like all asteroids that pose a threat to life on Earth, NASA has a plan to tackle it.
The space agency is currently running a mission with its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to find out more about the rock.
Bennu is just one that poses a threat
The spacecraft spent two years chasing Bennu down, before orbiting it for another two years and taking samples.
Then, in 2023, it will blast back to Earth to allow scientists from around the world to study it.
The mission team is particularly interested in learning the role that asteroids like Bennu – dark, primitive and apparently carbon-rich – may have played in creating life on Earth.
It will also help scientists to refine the odds of a strike on the Blue Planet.