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article imageScientists warn Earth to prepare for killer asteroid

By Tim Sandle     Nov 19, 2016 in Science
Houston - It may seem like the plot of a sci-fi disaster movie, but NASA scientists have given serious consideration of how the Earth should defend itself against an asteroid should such a space rock be on a collision course with our planet.
In the short-term there's nothing to worry about. NASA has identified around 17,000 potentially hazardous near-Earth objects; however, none of these are projected to come close to Earth in the next hundred years. However, the potential for an asteroid collision remains, after all this is the most common theory for the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago.
Recently, the Washington Post reports, NASA scientists undertook a role playing exercise where they tested out a scenario where an asteroid was heading towards Earth (focal point southern California in the year 2020). The outcome was, based on present resources, there is little humanity can do other than attempt to deal with the aftermath of the impact and salvage whatever is left of human civilization. Of course the extent of the damage would depend upon the size of the asteroid and its in-coming velocity. Here even a relatively small asteroid could cause significant destruction.
For example, an asteroid one mile long and travelling at 30,000 miles per hour would have sufficient energy roughly equal to a 1 million megaton bomb. It is highly likely that an asteroid like this would wipe out most of the life on the planet.
The impact of a medium sized asteroid hitting the Earth is played out in the following video:
The exercise has left NASA to ponder how human civilization can deal with an asteroid threat in the near-future. Perhaps better use could be made of the globe's arsenal of nuclear weapons and these could be harnessed on some form of space platform, pointing out into the solar system rather than trained on humankind.
In related news, around one hundred planetary scientists, physicists and engineers have published an open letter requesting a joint European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA mission to survey a near-Earth asteroid and attempt to consider future risks to the planet.
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