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How NASA Plans to Deal with Killer Asteroids



One of science-fiction’s favorite topics is killer asteroids. What’s not to love? Earth in peril, and only science to save the day. Movies like this make us laugh and cry, but rarely do we think about the reality. Chunks of space debris are whizzing past us every day and much of what hits us burns up in the atmosphere. But what about the stuff that doesn’t? What happens when the big one, like the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, finally becomes a real threat? NASA has a plan, and this is the gist of it:



1. Constant surveillance is needed using several observatories.
Before we can even begin to do anything about killer asteroids, we need to be able to spot them coming. We’ve had a few surprises and some near-misses, so we’re nowhere near where we should be as far as surveillance is concerned. NASA intends to have dedicated observatories scanning the skies for potential threats.

2. NASA has to determine if a detected asteroid truly does pose a threat.
Of course, even if we spot a giant asteroid headed our way, how do we know if it’ll just pass us by or smash right into us? There’s no use going to all the trouble to deal with something that won’t even harm us. Therefore, another prudent goal is to have better models to produce more accurate predictions.



3. Deflection technology is our best bet at this point.
In the next few years, NASA plans to push forward with DART, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Essentially, DART will show us if we can use deflection (read: intentionally crashing into an object) technology to slightly alter the path of an asteroid and send it away from instead of directly towards us. This test will be conducted on the moonlet of Didymos.
 
Jan 31, 2020
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Very interesting, I wonder what deflection/planetary defense technologies we will have in the near future. It is extremely scary to know that a threat may someday exist. May just be me or I am getting really paranoid from these Asteroid Collision Simulations. Anyways, nice thread. Hope to see some updates with DART and maybe even it in action.
 
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Feb 18, 2020
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Of course beyond a certain size there is absolutely nothing which can be done.

In the past scarcely any planet in our Solar System has avoided being hit by something very large.
Mercury has an oversize core. Probably an impact resulted loss of mantle, much of which probably went into the Sun.
Venus rotates slowly and retrograde - probably due to impact
Earth was hit by Theia to form Moon
Jupiter was hit by comet Levy-Shoemaker-9 in 1992 as seen by millions on Earth
Uranus has been knocked over by about 90 degrees and rotates sideways

Most of these happened billions of years ago when there was much more large stuff floating around (Late Heavy Bombardment 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago) but a comet hitting Jupiter in (most of?) our lifetimes shows it can still happen.
Who knows what is still out there? Planet X is supposed to be pretty large.

What worries me is that however good the calculations

1. Dangerous objects may still be deflected by Jupiter or some other body
2. Not long ago two passed by us in the same day and one we did not see until it was on its way off.

Never mind. I think we are still pretty safe. The human race will probably be extinct in 200 years from its own stupidity viz overpopulation, starvation, global warming etc etc.. Just my opinion.

Cat
 

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