Anti-Asteroid Defenses Are Not Just for Hollywood Anymore
When many of us think about a big asteroid flying toward earth and the U.S. inevitably being the one to solve the problem, we all probably picture Bruce Willis and a ragtag team of unqualified drillers-turned-astronauts flying off to drill into the asteroids and load it up with nukes, as was the case in Armageddon. The idea of humans doing something to stop asteroids from harming the earth might not be such a fictional idea after all, but the way it’s done might not be what people expect.
Space.com recently reported on the United Nations Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, which met in the second week of February to discuss strategies to address very real concerns over near-Earth objects (or, NEOs) like asteroids that are capable of damage on a grand scale. Last year, it was made clear to many just what kind of damage a chunk of rock was capable of when Chelyabinsk, Russia experienced the detonation of a 11,000-ton space rock in the atmosphere above the city, as approximated by NASA. The blast generated by the rock easily released more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Structural damage was wide-spread, and about 1,200 people were injured.
Pondering the threat of these rocks is clearly not something relegated to the silver screen. The threat has actually been something the UN has considered for years, as the UN Action Team on Near Earth Objects — or Action Team 14 — has been in place to look into the problem since 2001, Space.com reports. After the February 10-11 meetings in Vienna, an action plan for NEOs may be that much closer to completion.