Developing Explosion Models for Optimal Fragmentation of a Hazardous Asteroid

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Harry, Jacob
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Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.

Aerospace Engineering

Asteroid collisions with the Earth pose a great threat to the safety of populations around the globe. Research into the optimal mitigation of these potential hazards through physical modeling and high-performance computation will help to minimize these threats. Late detection of asteroids yields a small response window, restricting the efficacy of most non-nuclear options. The Asteroid Deflection Research Center has been operating as a NASA Innovative and Advanced Concepts Phase II Project. The center's innovative mission design involves using a two-body spacecraft: a kinetic impactor in the fore body, followed by a nuclear deterrent in the aft body. The fore body will create a crater in the asteroid, allowing significant coupling of the nuclear blast. A National Research Council report on the energy transfer effects of depth on nuclear penetrator weapons indicates a drastic increase in energy coupling with increasing depth. Our preliminary results indicate a maximum efficiency factor of 12 when comparing subsurface versus contact blasts.

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