The Dinosaurs Can Attest: Asteroids Are Dangerous

I tore an op-ed piece out of one of last week’s WSJ’s because it both worried and reassured me. It was about asteroids, one of which is expected to nearly hit the earth in 2032. It’s a long time from now, but in Russia, they are gearing up to actually do something about it.

Russia has experience being hit with giant asteroids. In 1908 a 100-foot wide chunk of matter hit Tungusa Siberia, and destroyed 100 million trees, flattening 1000 square miles. That’s what a mere 100-foot long monster can do. But the asteroid named Aphophis is a whopping 1000 feet across, as big as the Rose Bowl, and what it can do is the thing of armageddon. Ugh. It would destroy an area as big as France and would have a blast effect 100,000 times worse than Hiroshima.

Needless to say, the Russians are right to be thinking about this. The idea is to go out into deep space and try to alter Aphophis’ trajectory. While NASA’s manned space missions have been abandoned due to budget cuts in the US, there is still interest in landing on the asteroid. That would give us time to study the thing and see if we can destroy it. Or maybe it will just miss us, and we don’t have anything to worry about.