So far, the battle between life on Earth and asteroids has been completely one-sided. But not for long. Soon, we’ll have the capability to deter asteroids from undesirable encounters with Earth. And while conventional thinking has said that the further away the better when it comes to intercepting one, we can’t assume we’ll always have enough advance warning.
A new study says we might be able to safely destroy potentially dangerous rocky interlopers, even when they get closer to Earth than we’d like.
Humanity faces a dilemma regarding asteroids. We’ve identified many of the potentially dangerous ones, but not all of them, especially smaller ones. We know there must be undetected small asteroids out there, and they can still cause a lot of damage. An asteroid’s potential damage is due not just to its size, but also its angle of impact, its velocity, and its density. (Check out Purdue University’s asteroid impact simulator.) As a general rule of thumb, an asteroid the size of a football field could wipe out a city like New York.
NASA and other space agencies are concerned when it comes to Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs). The US Congress gave ...