If you thought NASA chief, Charles Bolden, speaking to the US House of Representatives on the subject of world ending asteroids, would bring us some solutions to the potential threat, you’d be sorely mistaken. If it happened within the next few weeks, Bolden believes the best course of action would be to “pray.”
Of course we’re very unlikely to be hit by a giant asteroid without some sort of warning, but look at the damage that a small 55 footer did in Russia just a few weeks ago. That did a lot of damage to buildings and injured over 1,500 people. It wouldn’t need to be much bigger than that to cause huge problems.
“We were fortunate that the events of last month were simply an interesting coincidence rather than a catastrophe,” said Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texan politician that called the meeting in an effort to hear about potential solutions to the threats.
NASA did assure representatives that 95 per cent of nearby objects over half a kilometre wide, were being tracked by the organisation. And a good thing too, as ones that size are potential planet killers. Or at least, human killers.
“From the information we have, we don’t know of an asteroid that will threaten the population of the United States,” Bolden said (via Reuters), “But if it’s coming in three weeks, pray.”
While movies from the last couple of decades would suggest we either fire nukes at an incoming asteroid, or drill into it and put nukes inside it, future solutions could be much simpler and less explosive. One option involves painting one side of an asteroid, where the Yarkovsky effect allows for very minute changes in the asteroid’s trajectory – enough that it’ll miss earth instead of hit it. Another, perhaps slightly more plausible idea, involves parking a satellite of some kind around a potential threat and using that slight shift in gravity to pull the asteroid out of its deadly path.
KitGuru Says: Again it would take a while to achieve, but it certainly seems smarter than just blowing it up.