Artist's rendering of asteroids and space dust
Artist's rendering of asteroids and space dust NASA/JPL-Caltech

A new study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University has found that asteroids are much harder and stronger than previously thought. The study report comes at a time when NASA is busy preparing for the launch of its planetary defence weapon aimed to protect the earth from potential apocalyptic asteroid hits.

During the study, researchers found that incoming asteroids may be very harder to break, and they made this conclusion by using a new computer modelling method to simulate asteroid collisions.

The new study report contradicted with the findings of a study conducted in 2000 which suggested that an asteroid apparently one kilometre in diameter could be completely shattered using manmade impacts. In this past study, researchers used a computer model which analyzed various factors such as mass, temperature, and material brittleness.

However, in the new study conducted by Hopkins researchers, scientists used a new computer model called the Tonge-Ramesh model which studied the factors of the impact in a detailed manner. The new model clearly revealed that an impact is not capable enough to completely destroy the asteroid, instead, millions of cracks were formed along with a crater. Further analysis revealed that more energy is needed to tear apart the asteroid effectively.

"We are impacted fairly often by small asteroids, such as in the Chelyabinsk event a few years ago. It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat. We need to have a good idea of what we should do when that time comes—and scientific efforts like this one are critical to helping us make those decisions," said KT Ramesh, director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, The Independent reports.

As the new report has surfaced, many sceptics have started claiming that NASA's current plan to test a planetary defence weapon to protect the earth from asteroid hits may not be sufficient enough to deviate and destruct these space bodies. Some scientists have also revealed that nuking the asteroid will not be also an effective solution, as it will result in a debris rain all across the planet.

A few weeks back, Dr Iain McDonald, a top scientist at Cardiff University, had revealed that earth will be hit by a doomsday asteroid for sure in the future. As per the scientist, devastating events triggered by asteroid hits have occurred in the past, and it will happen in the coming years too.