You may think that city-destroying asteroids are just the stuff of sci-fi novels, but new research reveals that the Earth is far more vulnerable to asteroid impacts than we ever though possible. In fact, a group of scientists say that we are ten times more likely to experience a collision than was previously believed, and that avoiding a serious collision thus far has just been a matter of dumb luck. Knowing this, the B612 Foundation wants to launch an early warning system that can alert us to asteroids well before they could hit us.
Image via B612 Foundation
A majority of asteroid impacts occur either in unpopulated areas like the Earth’s oceans or high up in the atmosphere. But a group of three former astronauts reviewed data released by the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which scans the Earth looking for the infrasound signatures that accompany nuclear detonations. In that data, they discovered that asteroid impacts were occurring far more frequently and at much larger scales than expected. One asteroid explosion recorded between 2000 and 2013 registered at 40 times the amount of energy of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
The astronauts, including Dr. Ed Lu, Tom Jones and Bill Anders, support the B612 Foundation, where Dr. Lu is currently the CEO. According to the company, an early warning telescope could track potentially dangerous asteroids using their Sentinel Space Telescope Mission. The project is planned to launch in 2018, and represents the first privately-funded deep space mission to map our solar system.
Within its first year of operation, the satellite could potentially detect more than 200,000 and by 2024, could map 98 percent of all near-Earth orbit objects, though the team estimates that the mission has a 30 percent chance of identifying an asteroid on an Earth-collision trajectory. If an object is identified that poses a threat to Earth, people could attempt to deflect the asteroid to prevent collision.
Via the Daily Mail
Lead image via Shutterstock