Are you worried about a giant asteroid or comet crashing into Earth and making humans extinct like the dinosaurs? Perhaps, we’ve all been watching too many apocalyptic movies, or just maybe it is a real fear to be taken seriously. Well, if this is one of your fears you are not alone. In fact, there are a number of scientists who get together, fairly regularly (every couple of years) to discuss these things, and offer up research and solution to insure that doesn’t happen, and if it does to mitigate its effect.
Let me recommend a very good book which will catch you up to speed quickly, it’s a one-night read, but I recommend spending a couple of nights reviewing it, and taking lots of notes as I did. Why do I care, well our Think Tank is concerned with such things and thus, we are already thinking here often enough. The name of the book is:
“Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report,” by the Committee to Review Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies; National Research Council, Published By the National Academies Press, Washington DC., (2010), pages 152, ISBN: 0-309-14969-X.
The United States spends some $4 million per year searching for NEOs and they hope to find 90% of the NEOs over 140 meters in diameter or greater by 2020. The study noted that due to research declaring that 40-50 meters could cause severe damage in the event of an airburst near populated areas, this too is of concern now. This report discussed Gladstone Observatory, Arecibo, and the Chile observatory – all working to find these NEOs. But the report sheds some light on reality that, finding the objects is only half the battle.
Mitigation is the key, once near certainty of an Earth strike is eminent – thus, there are issues with use of civil defense, and towing or pushing the asteroid off collision course. Kinetic impactors, and even nuclear explosives were suggested. Please consider all this.