Last week, the International Academy of Astronautics on Planetary Defense hosted a conference, which brought together experts from around the world to discuss the threat of a collision between asteroids and comets with the Earth.
Scientists of the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have specifically developed the legend of the collision of Earth with asteroid 2019 PDC in 2027.
The scenario fulfilled by scientists is quite real. Today, the list of potentially dangerous celestial bodies includes at least 75 space objects that threaten the Earth with a possible collision.
Threats from space
Space objects of small size constantly enter the atmosphere of the Earth, become meteors and look like “falling stars”. If the body is large, and the brightness of the meteor becomes comparable to the brightness of Venus, then astronomers talk about the flight of the car.
One of such objects exploded in the atmosphere of our planet near the coast of Kamchatka several months ago. The explosion exceeded the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima ten times, but it became known only in March.
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In 2013, a similar meteorite exploded 30 kilometers above the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. And no one expected it. The result was a flash of light and a powerful blast wave that smashed glass in several thousand houses and walked around the Earth twice. More than a thousand inhabitants of the region suffered.
Such collisions occur about three times a year. Most of them occur over the ocean or in remote corners of the planet, so nothing is known about them.
But 65 million years ago, an asteroid crashed into Earth at a speed of 72 thousand kilometers per hour, forever changing the evolution and history of the planet. The air directly in front of it shrank and heated, and a blow to the atmosphere created an ultrasonic shock wave.
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The asteroid fell into the shallow sea, where the Yucatan peninsula is now located. The devastating effects turned out to be unprecedented – a tsunami, an overheated atmosphere, a darkened sky, a terrible cold snap, as well as other apocalyptic environmental events.
As a result, 75 percent of the known life forms on Earth were destroyed. Paleontologists call this catastrophe the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (K / Pg extinction), because it means a transition from the Cretaceous to Paleogene period in the history of the Earth.
And from another such strike, humanity, like dinosaurs, is not insured, so scientists are exploring ways to find a dangerous object in advance and prevent it from falling on the planet.
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In 2005, the US Congress set a task for NASA to fix asteroids near the Earth by 2020, which are over 140 meters in size. Celestial bodies of this size carry an unpredictable threat to the planet.
On March 20, scientists published a report on the asteroid Bennu, the most potentially dangerous object for the Earth. It can fall on our planet between 2169 and 2199, so he was called the “asteroid of the apocalypse .”
In addition to NASA, there are several international projects that are aimed specifically at developing an action plan in the case of approaching dangerous asteroids, which are called Okkozemnye objects among scientists.
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In addition, in parallel and continuously the joint work of the UN member countries in the framework of the Consultative Group on planning of space missions.
How to escape from asteroids
This year, from April 29 to May 3, a Planetary Defense Conference was held in Washington . At the PDC, scientists from all over the world were asked to analyze the situation of the threat of a collision with a fictional asteroid in 2027 and to develop methods to combat it.
According to legend, the object was discovered a month before the start of the conference. Emergency experts also attended the event.
Their task was to analyze the asteroid as much as possible – from its characteristics to the calculation of the collision and the trajectory of its fall.
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According to preliminary calculations, the clash should occur on April 29, 2027 – exactly eight years after the conference. Before the conference, the probability of an asteroid 2019 PDC falling to Earth was estimated as one chance out of 50 thousand, but scientists’ calculations showed that this probability is 1/100.
In addition to calculating the chance, participants also managed to create a “risk corridor” – the territory on which the asteroid should fall. The corridor covered more than half of the entire planet – the blow could have come both on the Hawaiian Islands and on southern Africa.
All participants were divided into several groups: observation of the asteroid, the mission of projects and consultants on media and politics.
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The PDC was held for five days – during this time, the whole team had several tasks at once – not only to reflect the “attack” of the asteroid, but also to coordinate work, find funding and correctly tell the public about a potential disaster.
“This is a unique conference that has never happened on our planet. Astronomers, rescue workers, media and representatives of other professions gathered for the sole purpose: to save our planet from a cosmic catastrophe,” said NASA director Jim Brydenstein at the opening of the conference.
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On May 1, they learned that a celestial body consists of a stone, its diameter is about 200 meters. An estimated drop point was also established – the American city of Denver in Colorado.
In addition, the PDC 2019 “shock force” has become known – it is about 500 megatons. For comparison – the most powerful weapon in the entire history of the Earth “king of the bomb” had a power of 58.6 megatons.
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Options for saving the earth from destruction:
1. Launching a spacecraft, or an attack already existing in orbit. Appaprat should crash into an asteroid, changing its trajectory and take it away from Earth. It is planned to try at the end of 2022. NASA will send the DART vehicle, which will have to strike the near-Earth asteroid Didyme.
1. The planned #AIDA mission will be the first to test asteroid deflection. @NASA's #DART spacecraft will be crashed into asteroid #Didymoon, and ESA's #HeraMission will observe the effects. Find out more: https://t.co/KcjewP41yx pic.twitter.com/JU09tZ6mTr
— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) April 27, 2019
2. Blow up an asteroid before it flies to Earth using nuclear weapons. This option is still considered only in theory, because a nuclear explosion in space can have negative consequences.
3. Take the celestial body away from Earth due to artificial gravity of a rocket. This option is possible if the potential threat can be detected long before approaching the planet.
Then from Earth you can send a massive spacecraft, which will have to fly next to the asteroid for many years, being a “gravitational tractor”, pulling an asteroid next to it.
4. Repaint part of the asteroid in white. At first, this method may seem absurd, however, this is done so that its sides reflect and absorb light in different ways, and because of this, the flight path of the body may change.
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NASA lists 75 real- world space objects that could potentially collide with Earth. At the moment, our planet is not in danger, but at any moment everything can change, and humanity will have to coordinate together to save the Earth.