A bit of bad news. In 30 years, a 360-yard-wide asteroid could hit Earth and cause more devastation than the past year’s natural disasters combined. But don’t worry, the chances of that happening are only 1 in 5,500.
Astronomers have kept a close watch on the asteroid they’ve named Apophis and concluded that it will not make any impact with our planet in 2036. The asteroid, however, will graze by us by a paltry distance of 18,640 miles. That’s thousands of miles closer than any communications satellite currently in space.
According to NASA’s Spaceguard Survey, there are approximately 1,100 asteroids in our inner solar system. And they all are at least two-thirds of a mile wide. After all, it is speculated that the object that exterminated the dinosaurs was six to seven miles wide.
Although this rendezvous with Apophis should be a miss, it has caused the Association of Space Explorers to call for prevention plans for cosmic collisions, putting heat on NASA for action.
A 360-yard-wide asteroid will miss Earth by just over 18,000 miles – that’s cause enough for a plan of action.
If we have learned anything from the past decade, it should be lessons on the importance of preparation. It’s been the key word when discussing the disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. If the state governments were prepared, the devastation wouldn’t have been nearly as great. Think as far back as to 1999 with the Y2K scare. Computer programmers knew decades before that the internal clocks of all units would reset themselves to 1900 when the ball dropped on 1999 – thus rendering all the computers useless. Yet, they didn’t begin to remedy the problem until a year before the turn of the millennium, sending everyone scrambling for bottled water and flashlights.
A continuation of this not-preparing-for-emergencies trend would officially establish us as the most ignorant of the resourcefully-equipped countries.
If we dodge this rock in 30 years (which is predicted), there are still around 1,100 others out there. We should consider this one a warning shot.
NASA has proposed hypothetical methods of either placing radio transmitters on Apophis or deflecting it. Astronaut Rusty Schweickart of Apollo 9 opposes these attempts, stating any project would be a waste of money due to the small odds of an impact. “But the questions is, do I agree with it when it’s 1-in-100…if it’s 1-in-20. That is a probability question,” said Schweickart. “At what probability do you begin to spend hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in order to do something?”
Just like every other botched job by the United States, this is an instance of corporations and government not wanting to shell out the big bucks. And yet, NASA’s billions will be worth diddly-squat when there’s no planet left where they can spend it.