What if an Asteroid Collided with Earth
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What if an Asteroid Collided with Earth

An asteroid making an impact with Earth is not that unlikely. In fact there is one asteroid that was discovered back in 2005, that has the potential to smack into Earth around 2036. NASA has sketched out a response strategy just in case of the possibility that the asteroid becomes a real threat. The asteroid, known as 99942 Apophis is expected to make a close fly by on April 13, 2029. What can't be ruled out at this time is that Apophis may pass through a gravitational "keyhole" - a spot that alters the asteroid's trajectory as it zips by our planet and that might put it on the line for banging into Earth seven years later.

The first response is to track the asteroid, or any asteroid or Near Earth Object (NEO) that comes close enough to possibly be a threat. The ruin stemming from asteroid Apophis colliding with Earth would potentially be very great. Japan’s Hayabusa mission is to plant a transponder on the asteroid. The mission is also to haul back samples of the object to the Earth.  The possibility of Apophis hitting Earth on April 13, 2036 is real, even if the probabilities now seem to be very small.  But whether the asteroid will strike Earth or not, the challenge is to resolve which case is correct. With more observation of the object scientists should be able to tell if the object will come close enough to Earth to make an impact or not. All of the science community agrees there must be more discussion of how to work together and what to do or how to handle the threat of asteroids colliding with the Earth. The UN plans on meeting in February to discuss the issue. In the meantime, what can really be done about possible asteroid impact threats? This is a very important topic that everyone should be concerned about. An impact from an asteroid is possibly the reason why dinosaurs became extinct and another asteroid impact caused a huge fire in Siberia in 1908 that covered an area the size of New York. Analysis of the Apophis asteroid hitting Earth suggests there is a one in 45,000 chance of collision with Earth. Researchers propose that a large object must somehow be deflected from Earth. Researchers propose several ways of doing this. The most extreme methods they suggest is to crash a spacecraft into the asteroid to knock it off course, or to set off a nuclear explosion. They say the earlier the threat is dealt with, the less drastic the course of action need be. Also suggested is that the natural forces of gravity on Earth can be used to deflect asteroids in many situations. One scientist states that “We can use the natural attraction of a probe to one of the bodies, to slowly pull the object away." If done at sufficient distance from the Earth, the orbit of an asteroid can be changed slightly to take it away from a collision path. We must combine scientific monitoring with a global political strategy. Things like who is going to act and under what authority need to be determined now, before the situation actually happens. There are not many other possible theories or solutions as to what to do in the event of a real threat to Earth from an asteroid. More scientists, as well as the UN and all nations, need to begin making it a priority to have a plan and more options in place in case of a real emergency.

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Comments (2)

Very interesting. A very dertailed dicussion of Apophis, the "Killer Asteroid," was presented in the December 2006 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine and can be read online at the Popular Mechanics archives site, here's the link http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4201569.html. Your style of writing, and this is meant as a compliment, reminds me of one of my favorite weekly science newsletters of some fifty years ago, it gives just enough information to pique ones desire to know more and leaving one to search for it on their own. This is just a suggestion from one witer to another, you might consider including links to sites where your reader can find additional information. A faithful reader Jerry jwfreelancer1943@gmail.com

Thanks Jerry, that's very nice of you. I appreciate the compliment and the suggestion. I will try to remember to include links in my upcoming articles for more information. Thanks again!

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