A massive asteroid flies toward the earth, threatening to destroy the planet and wipe out mankind only to be blown out of the sky at the last minute by a nuclear missile.
It sounds like science fiction, but NASA scientists are legitimately worried mankind isn’t doing enough to protect the planet from a massive extinction event. Experts warn there are at least three giant space rocks that could destroy the Earth, as we know it.
In 2013, an asteroid 65-feet wide dropped out of the sky over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and exploded without warning injuring 1,000 people and causing thousands of dollars in property damage.
Mark Boslough, a physicist at Sandia National Laboratories and one of the founders of Asteroid Day, told the Express the governments of the world need to invest in a planetary defense system that could destroy near Earth asteroids.
“An event like Chelyabinsk happens about once every 50 years, and we don’t have a system designed to discover and track these things.”
June 30 has been designated Asteroid Day for the second year in a row as scientists try to raise awareness about the potential catastrophe facing mankind. Last year’s event was attended by celebrity scientist Bill Nye, according to Express.
“We’ve no evidence the dinosaurs had a space program, and it cost them.”
Currently, NASA has no strategy to deflect an incoming asteroid, but Russian President Vladamir Putin wants to start shooting Cold War missiles at giant, near-Earth space rocks as part of his latest strategy to protect his country from incoming asteroids.
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) February 20, 2016
After the Chelyabinsk asteroid appeared out of nowhere and injured more than 1,000 people, the Russian government began studying the prospect of protecting the Earth from massive space rocks.
Their solution: fire a massive Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) at it.
The idea is to hit any incoming near-Earth asteroid with a missile and blast it into smaller chunks that are more likely to disintegrate in the atmosphere.
The problem, however, is that such an experiment has never been attempted and it’s possible the strategy could backfire by turning one giant rock into several smaller ones that could rain down over a larger area.
— CNET (@CNET) February 13, 2016
The Russians have announced plans to test their planetary defense system by shooting an ICBM at 99942 Apophis, an asteroid predicted to come dangerously close to the Earth in 2036.
The 325-meter asteroid is much bigger than the 50-meter asteroids the Russians say can be destroyed with a missile, but they’re hoping to gather important data from the test.
How likely is an asteroid to destroy the earth?
NASA is currently tracking three large asteroids that have the potential to snuff out mankind and end life on Earth, as we know it.
The most likely asteroid to crash into Earth is one named 2009 FD; it’s almost a quarter mile wide and could come visiting between 2185 and 2196. The odds of 2009 FD striking the Earth are about 1 in 345, the same as having a child born with Down’s Syndrome.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) February 14, 2016
The space rock NASA is most concerned about is asteroid 1999 RQ36, which has 78 chances to hit the Earth as it passes our solar system from 2175 to 2199. The space agency is sending a probe out to the asteroid to take samples and find out what they could be dealing with. It’s expected to land on the space rock in 2019 and be back to Earth by 2023, Nicholas Deleon told the Express.
“Something that size hitting the Earth at any sort of speed—and it would smash into the Earth at a remarkable rate of speed—would certainly cause destruction on a wide scale.”
Then, there’s the asteroid named 1950 AD, which is a mile long. If it hits the Earth when it passes in 2880, it could cause another ice age.
Currently, no one has the ability to deflect or destroy an incoming near-Earth asteroid and NASA is only able to track about 2 percent of the space rocks in our solar system.
This June 30, remember Asteroid Day and the much needed planetary defense system that only the Russians seem to be working on.
[Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images]