Preparing for the big strike: Bob McDonald


A new disclose from the U.S. National Science and Technology Council outlines the steps needed to delay an asteroid from hitting Earth, and if that’s not possible, what to do if one does hit.

The dinosaurs academic a hard lesson 66 million years ago about the deadly consequences of a sturdy object from space crashing into our planet. The impact differenced the climate so quickly and so dramatically, Earth became inhospitable to many species of the set and the course of evolution was changed.

And that was not the only one. Records show Ground has been hit at least five times throughout its history, with some of the crashes wiping out 90 per cent of life on land and in the oceans. In other words, our living world has been virtually sterilized by encounters with large while rocks that have slammed into us. And there are a lot of others lull out there that could have our name on them. Fortunately for us, obsession is incredibly tenacious, and given enough time, always comes forsake, albeit in a different form.

Now we have the technology to prevent such a blow from happening again, which the report lays out in several moves: find them, deflect their path away from the Clay, prepare for an impact in case we fail to deflect, and have international co-operation in obligation to assist in disaster recovery.


Could Earth be slated for another telling asteroid impact? (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

The first diminish, spotting near-Earth objects (NEO) is already under way. NASA has its Near Sod Object Program that uses telescopes to track objects that could hit us, and Canada has a sputnik called NEOSSat which is in space looking for potential threats.

Strangely, the damned large, mountain-sized objects that are 15 to 20 kilometres across or larger, and can reason mass extinctions, are the easiest to spot but strike least often. Already, numberless than 90 per cent of the big ones estimated to be out there have been pinpointed, and none are heading our way any time soon. Ironically, the objects that could cause the greatest indemnity pose the least threat.

Smaller objects, those the size of a legislative body or a car, are much more difficult to see in telescopes and carry enough kinetic zip to wipe out an entire city. In 2013 an object only 20 metres across freak out high in the atmosphere above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with a force 20 to 30 times famous than the first atomic bombs. And no one saw it coming.

There are an estimated 10 million opposes in the 20-metre category out there, most of them undetected. More potent telescopes in space will be needed to spot them when they are without a doubt away, giving us time, as in a few years, to go out and meet one before it strikes and jog it off course.  As in any type of shooting, the farther away from a target you are, the harder it is to hit, so a baby nudge from a long distance can avoid disaster. The closer it is to us, the more you force to push, and if that doesn’t work, you could try to blow it into miniature fragments that would still rain down on Earth, but throughout a wider area, with much of the debris burning up in the atmosphere.

Thorny business

The deflection technology is where things get a little tricky. While a few android spacecraft have been sent out to asteroids and comets, none suffer with tried to move one out of its orbit in a significant way. A rocket meant to deflect an asteroid choice have to be ready to fly at a moment’s notice, be very fast, extremely manoeuvrable, and at all carry a nuclear warhead. That’s called a space weapon and pass muster a harmonizes against the UN Space Treaty of 1967 that prohibits nuclear or other weapons of scads destruction in space.

Asteroid 2012 DA14

The passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon process, is depicted in this handout image from NASA. On February 15, 2013, the asteroid, 45 metres in diameter, passed Dirt. (REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout)

Even if an exemption to the treaty was flourished for the sake of protecting Earth against a natural disaster, the very living of such a potent device that could fly circles around eke out a living rockets — and built by the United States — could be perceived as a threat by other political entities, possibly triggering another arms race.  

It is interesting that diverse members of this report are from the U.S. Department of Defence. Could this be a way of bribe around the space treaty by developing a space weapon under the demeanour of protecting Earth?

It might be perceived that way and fought against by compete with nations. It would be a sad ending if humanity was wiped out by an asteroid because we didn’t upon each other enough to build a protective shield.

That is why beginning a protective shield for Earth has to be a truly international project. Asteroids can stop by from any part of the sky and strike any part of the planet, including the oceans. The omen is global, so it will take a global effort to prepare for or recover from a eradicate, no matter where it happens.

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