If you first heard about the truck-sized meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia back in February on social media …
You’re not alone. So did the world’s space agencies. Not the most comforting news, right? (Via YouTube / earlynewzneeded)
— which is why the United Nations says it’s taking matters into its own hands with the creation of an asteroid defense group.
According to Scientific American, here’s how it will work: “If astronomers detect an asteroid that poses a threat to Earth, the U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will help coordinate a mission to launch a spacecraft to slam into the object and deflect it from its collision course.”
It’s estimated there are about a million asteroids large enough to damage or even destroy a major city. But, scientists have only been able to identify less than one percent with telescopes. (Via Discovery)
Come on Harry, press the button.
And while the film Armageddon made blowing an asteroid to pieces look relatively easy, it’s actually a lot more work.
As a former NASA astronaut explained to Popular Science, at least 10 years notice is needed to deflect an incoming asteroid. “The curve goes from millimeters per second to meters per second pretty quickly … The job rapidly goes from 'easy- easy' to almost impossible starting at about a decade.”
“You can predict a hundred years that’s something going to hit. If we don’t find it until a year out, make yourself a nice cocktail.” (Via American Museum of Natural History)
Again, hardly comforting news. Aside from the timing issue, there’s another problem. No single country has the responsibility of deflecting asteroids. There’s a reason for that, according to one expert who told Space.com: “If something goes wrong in the middle of the deflection, you have now caused havoc in some other nation that was not at risk. And, therefore, this decision of what to do, how to do it, and what systems to use have to be coordinated internationally.”
And this might help. The B612 Foundation, a group committed to defending Earth against asteroids, says its developing an infrared asteroid-hunting telescope to be launched in 2017.
- See more at Newsy.com