by Launchspace Staff Writers
Bethesda MD (SPX) Jul 03, 2013
There is a sleeping giant out there, in space, somewhere. It is hidden among a mass of stars, lurking ever so quietly, waiting until the day of reckoning - the end of life on Earth. It is a large asteroid, one of several hundred. But, it is distinguished by its eventual destiny, an encounter with our planet.
The world's astronomers are continuously searching the skies for advanced notice that it is coming. Every detected large object is studied and its trajectory analyzed for a possible close approach to Earth.
Experts estimate there are several hundred large asteroids occupying heliocentric orbits that pass near Earth. Each is at least a half-mile across, the smallest of which could cause a global disaster resulting in millions of deaths if a collision were to occur.
Several years ago the International Astronomical Union set up a special task force to focus on threats from these "near-Earth objects."
The goal was to discover killer asteroids before they encounter Earth. Powerful telescopes have been searching the heavens, but thankfully no such future encounters have been detected, yet. However, even if one of these impending disasters were to be forecast, there is little that can be done to mitigate the threat. There are no "asteroid busters" at this time.
All of us have seen Hollywood's science fiction thrillers, where a hero destroys a huge NEO just before entering the Earth's atmosphere and minutes short of obliterating the human race. In reality, we have no defense against such events. The human race has been lucky for the past several eons. Let's pray that luck continues.
As technology advances and we become more aware of our vulnerability, the innovators will create an asteroid defense system.
One can imagine the establishment of an Asteroid Buster Corps, consisting of a trained and organized group of scientists, engineers and technicians that use future technologies to detect and defuse NEO threats using a combination of yet-to-be-invented tools and methods.
The fact is that the human race is in a life-and-death race for survival. After all, history tells us that it is only a matter of time before a large NEO comes calling.
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Asteroid and Comet Impact Danger To Earth - News and Science
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