Asteroid Coming Toward Earth – What to do??
Forget about that Mayan Doomsday prophecy — the one that says the world will come an end this December. Not very many credible people take that one seriously.
But a lot of people with credible credentials say an asteroid will come close to Earth next February, and it should be taken very seriously because it could hit the Earth.
NASA’s data show the 60-meter asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will whistle by Earth 11 months from now. Its trajectory will bring it within a hair’s breadth of Earth, raising fears of a possible collision.
The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 16,700 miles. That’s inside the geosynchronous orbits of some Earth satellites.
If it hits the Earth, scientists say the energy released would equal the power of a thermo-nuclear bomb. They say the impact will be as hard as in the 1908 Tunguska collision in Siberia. More than 800 square miles of trees were destroyed. That’s an area about the size of Angelina County.
Obviously, many scientists say we need to do something to destroy this asteroid or steer it away from us. The Russian newspaper Izvestia reports some scientists suggest sending a spaceship to bomb it and break it up, or crash into it to throw it off course. Unfortunately, it would take several years to build a spaceship capable of that.
“We could paint it,” says asteroid expert David Dunham.
Dunham says a coat of paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, changing its temperature and altering its spin. However, other scientists say even if that could be done, it could make the asteroid even more dangerous when it comes back near Earth again in 2056. It could make a direct hit the next time around.
Still, the prospects are not all doom and gloom.
Dunham says “The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most part of it will never reach the planet’s surface.”
Paint an asteroid to steer it away from Earth? Oh please. As serious as a potential asteroid collision is, it’s impossible to take that kind of speculation seriously. Anyone who would even suggest it shouldn’t be taken seriously either.
Just for the sake of discussion, Dunham doesn’t explain how to deliver that much paint to an asteroid that’s now more than a million miles out in space. Nor does he explain how the paint would be applied. Spray? Paint guns? Rollers?
David Dunham is unofficial amateur expert on the timing of eclipses, and tracking the orbits of asteroids and comets. NASA sometimes uses his data, but he does not work for NASA, nor does he speak for NASA.
It’s also worth mentioning that so far, this story has only been reported in the Russian media. It has not been reported in any mainstream media outside of Russia.