Despite the clear and present danger of an asteroid or comet hitting the Earth, one NASA scientist recently cautioned that the planet remains incredibly susceptible to just such an event taking place.
Dr. Joseph Nuth told a gathering of geophysicists that, should astronomers spot a potentially disastrous incoming object, there may not even be enough time to respond.
To that end, he noted that scientists identified a comet in 2012 that subsequently passed close to the Earth a little over two years later.
Since it takes approximately five years of planning for a spacecraft to be launched from the planet, the forewarning would have been fruitless had the comet been coming directly towards us.
As such, Nuth suggested that NASA develop a 'response rocket,' of sorts, that would be set aside with the intention of having it ready in case a dangerous object was detected.
However, he conceded that even that attempt at insuring the safety of the planet would be a desperate act, since the 'response rocket' would likely still take a couple of years before it could be launched.
Fortunately, Nuth's fellow researchers have devised some ideas for what humanity could do to better defend itself from the ultimate natural disaster that is an asteroid strike.
The two proposed methods are either blasting the object with a nuclear bomb or shooting a giant cannonball-like projective at the asteroid in order to deflect it.
The nuclear option comes with the possibility for the destroyed asteroid or comet creating the unintended consequences of debris raining down on Earth.
And the cannonball solution looks to be a relatively complex feat to pull off at the present time.
Ultimately, though, the scientists warned that the debate over how best to respond to an asteroid strike leaves the planet vulnerable to one happening while the finer details of a plan are argued.
Until something gets decided and put into motion, NASA is stuck searching space for worrisome objects while the government holds drills here on Earth in preparation for what to do if an asteroid strike occurs.
So by looking for the perfect answer to the asteroid problem, we just may find ourselves standing amidst the burning wreckage of our civilization and wishing we'd settled for one of the many ideas that were just deemed 'good.'
Coast Insiders can learn more about the dangers of an asteroid hitting the Earth by checking out the 7/14/2014 edition of the program featuring planetary scientist Daniel Durda.
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Source: The Guardian