Earth is in real danger and we should get to work building defense systems if we want to be safe, a NASA scientist argued.
During its rich and long history, planet Earth has seen a number of cataclysmic predicaments. One such phenomenon is known as an extinction event. Modern science recognizes 6 such major extinctions but there were probably many others of smaller magnitudes.
Fearing one such scenario might be waiting to happen, a concerned NASA scientist made some sour valuations on mankind’s ability to defend itself in the face of imminent, catastrophic danger.
This week, the American Geophysical Union held a meeting to discuss important matters regarding the security of our world. One of the guest speakers was researcher Joseph Nuth from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and his message was not a very comforting one.
Apart from all the man-made dangers and catastrophes that could befall all of us, there is a long list of natural phenomena that could obliterate thousands of years of human civilization, effectively sending the survivors, if any, back to the Middle Ages. It would probably be even worse since we would then have the memory of a paradise lost.
Nuth’s main point was the scenario where a large asteroid or comet would impact Earth and the damage it would cause. Although Nuth argued that such an event sees a low probability of ever occurring, we need only look into the past to realize that it happened, therefore it could happen again.
Things like dinosaur killers, they’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially,” Nuth told attendees. “You could say, of course, we’re due.”
Today, NASA claims to have identified 90% of all objects near Earth that are larger than one kilometer in diameter. While this percentage is somewhat reassuring, there still remains a large number of unaccounted, potentially life-ending space rocks in our cosmic neighborhood.
But the problem is that, while we can detect some of these bollides, there isn’t much we can do should one come hurtling toward us.
The biggest problem, basically, is there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment,” Nuth said.
Drawing on the same premise, the space agency recently announced plans for establishing a planetary defense office, but despite the sumptuous name, the office is in no position to defend us. At the moment, all efforts are focused on detection, none on prevention or mitigation. Because of that, Nuth proposed a sci-fi scenario that could one day save our hides from an extinction event.
The researcher maintains we should start building a defense system consisting of interceptor rockets with a nuclear payload strong enough to annihilate, deviate or at least reduce the damage an incoming asteroid could cause if it were to hit Earth.
In conjunction with this interceptor, Nuth proposes we also build a space-based observatory that could offer us a better vantage point in our watch for danger. Unfortunately, Nuth pointed out these are mere suggestions and, despite the real peril, no such plan is under consideration.
“We’re talking a considerable amount of money,” he said. “The NASA request would probably be for several hundred million dollars to produce one of these spacecraft.”
We sincerely hope those with bank accounts fat enough to fund this venture love life on earth as much as the rest of us do and I bet my ass the dinosaurs didn’t see it coming either, but it still came. We as humans have the ability to run scenarios and use our imagination, so we should definitely build that rocket or at least keep Bruce Willis on speed dial.