It appears that there is a small chance that a potential extinction level event is approaching nearer than was originally believed. A small asteroid, about the size of the Empire State building, could be heading towards Earth in the year 2135 and although it isn't as big as the one believed to have hit Earth during the era of the dinosaurs, it is still a cause of grave concern.
Scientists have predicted that damage to life on earth could be on a bigger scale, should such an asteroid hit our planet. However, they are planning for such an eventuality if it arrives.
As per a report by the Washington Post, astrophysicists have come up with a strategy to avoid collision with the asteroid. One of the countermeasures includes launching a nine-ton “bulk impactor” nuke to push the asteroid out of its orbit towards Earth. The strategy is reportedly called Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response or HAMMER.
But doing this is easier said, (in this case typed) than done. Playing this game of altering the paths of celestial bodies will require a large-scale mission, perhaps the largest in human history. The report states that the asteroid, named 'Bennu', has a 1 in 2,700 chance of hitting Earth.
Though space objects often come on a collision path to earth, most of them are a lot smaller and burn up in the atmosphere before hitting the surface. However, an asteroid as big as 'Bennu' does not make rounds very often (thankfully) and it is quite possible that such a big asteroid will not burn substantially in our atmosphere doing plenty of damage.
The report says that NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office is responsible for detecting incoming asteroids and comets close to the Earth's orbit and devise strategies against them. NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is also reportedly heading towards Bennu to study the organic composition of the asteroid.
Updated Date: Mar 21, 2018 13:13 PM