NASA scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery — Earth is effectively defenceless in the event of a “dinosaur-killer” strike. Additional information states that the Earth is overdue for an extinction-level event involving a giant space object — like an asteroid or a comet – in view of the increase in the number of close encounters over the last 20 years, Dr Joseph Nuth stated.
Dr Nuth, speaking at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in San Francisco, stated that if a potentially dangerous object was on a crash-course with our planet “there is not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment”, according to The Guardian.
Humans are woefully unprepared for a surprise asteroid or comet, a NASA scientist warned, at a presentation with nuclear scientists into how humans might deflect cosmic dangers hurtling towards Earth.
Speaking at the annual meeting of American Geophysical Union, Nuth mad a note of how large and potentially fatal asteroids are extremely rare, as compared to the small objects that occasionally explode in Earth’s sky or strike its surface. “But on the other hand they are extinction level events, things like dinosaur-killers, they are 50-60 million years apart, essentially. You could say, of course, we’re due, but it’s a random course at that point.”
Comets follow distant paths from Earth but sometimes get knocked into the neighbourhood. Nuth said that the Earth had “a close encounter” in 1996, when an aberrant comet flew into Jupiter, and then again in 2014, when a comet passed “within cosmic spitting distance of Mars”. That second comet was only discovered 22 months before its brush with a planet: not nearly enough time to launch a deflection mission, had it been on a course for Earth.
NASA has been working towards creating an established planetary defense system — an interceptor rocket to keep in storage, with periodic testing, alongside an observer spacecraft. Nuth has stated NASA could cut that five-year schedule in half, but that even reducing that schedule by a quarter would be “basically a hail-mary pass.”