NEOimpactor: a tool for assessing Earth's vulnerability to the NEO impact hazard

Bailey, Nicholas James (2009) NEOimpactor: a tool for assessing Earth's vulnerability to the NEO impact hazard University of Southampton, School of Engineering Sciences, Doctoral Thesis , 189pp.


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The Earth’s surface bears the scars of 4.5 billion years of bombardment by asteroids,
despite most having been erased by tectonic activity and erosion. Asteroids predominantly
orbit the Sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but a large number
occupy orbits close to the Earth’s. These bodies are termed Near Earth Objects (NEOs)
and they present a very real impact threat to the Earth. In 1998 NASA inaugurated
the ‘Spaceguard Survey’ to catalogue 90% of NEOs greater than 1 km in diameter. The
smaller bodies, meanwhile, remain undetected and far more numerous.

In order to understand the NEO hazard, the consequences resulting from an asteroid
impact require modelling. While the atmospheric entry of asteroids is a critical
part of the impact process, it is the surface impact which is most important, both onto
land and into the oceans. It is the impact generated effects (IGEs) that are hazardous
to human populations on the Earth and the infrastructure they occupy. By modelling
these IGEs and the consequences they present for humans and infrastructure, an
understanding of the global vulnerability to the hazard is developed.

‘NEOimpactor’ is the software solution built to investigate the global vulnerability
to NEO impacts. By combining existing mathematical models which describe
the impact and effects, a unified impact simulator tool has been developed with the
capacity to model the real consequences of any terrestrial impact.

By comparing the consequences of multiple impact events, a complete vulnerability
assessment of the global NEO hazard is derived. The result maps are designed
for ease of dissemination to explain the impact risk to a non-specialist audience. The
system has identified China, US, India, Japan and Brazil as facing the greatest overall
risk, as well as indicating the various factors influencing vulnerability. The results can
be used for informing the international decision making processes regarding the NEO
hazard and potential mitigation strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Organisations: University of Southampton, Astronautics Group
ePrint ID: 67323
Date :
Date Event
11 June 2009Published
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 21:27
Further Information:Google Scholar

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