Catastrophic asteroid strike: How well prepared are we?

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 14 July 2019, 09:08 AM
Catastrophic asteroid strike: NASA would require at least five years of preparation
Catastrophic asteroid strike: NASA would require at least five years of preparation

Many asteroids have slammed into Earth with massive impacts. Also, the rock that wiped out many species of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. A global monitoring agency for nuclear weapons has detected 26 asteroid explosions with more power than a nuclear bomb in the 13 years between 2000 and 2013, according to a report.

There are more than seven lakhs asteroids in space that are found by the astronomers. It is to be noted that the asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Recently, we saw many asteroids including 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others going past through our planet. However, they all did not hit Earth and we were lucky enough. You may all agree with the fact that asteroid, if hits Earth, can cause massive destruction on the planet. Have you ever heard of asteroid named 99942 Apophis?

The 99942 Apophis, stretches about 1,100 feet (340 metres) across and will pass harmlessly by Earth, about 31,000 km above the surface on April 13, 2029.

"The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who works on radar observations of near-Earth objects (NEOs), said.

"We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size," Marina Brozovic said.

Catastrophic asteroid strike: How well prepared are we?

In 2016, a NASA scientist warned that the Earth is unprepared for such an event. In April 2018, the B612 Foundation reported "It's 100 per cent certain we'll be hit [by a devastating asteroid], but we're not 100 per cent sure when." Also in 2018, physicist Stephen Hawking, in his final book Brief Answers to the Big Questions, considered an asteroid collision to be the biggest threat to the planet.

Asteroid impact avoidance comprises a number of methods by which near-Earth objects (NEO) could be diverted, preventing destructive impact events. A sufficiently large impact by an asteroid or other NEOs would cause, depending on its impact location, massive tsunamis, multiple firestorms and an impact winter caused by the sunlight-blocking effect of placing large quantities of pulverized rock dust, and other debris, into the stratosphere.

According to expert testimony in the United States Congress in 2013, NASA would require at least five years of preparation before a mission to intercept an asteroid could be launched.

First Published: Sunday, July 14, 2019 09:08 AM
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