Scientists have not been able to avoid a tragic outcome in a simulation carried out by NASA in which a huge fictional asteroid is heading towards our planet.
A group of experts from the US and European space agencies attended a week-long exercise led by NASA in which they had to find the solution for a hypothetical scenario in which an asteroid 35 million miles away – about 56.3 million kilometers – away it was approaching the Earth. In the simulation, the space rock would take six months to impact the planet.
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In the framework of the simulation, the participants each day received more information about the celestial body, such as its size, its trajectory and the possibility of impact. The scientists had to cooperate with each other and use their technical knowledge to try to stop the space rock.
The brightest heads of the space agencies, however, failed. The expert group concluded that none of the currently existing technologies could prevent the asteroid from hitting, considering the six-month period given for solving the problem.
In the alternate reality of the drill, the asteroid crashed into Eastern Europe.
“These exercises ultimately help the planetary defense community communicate with each other and with our governments to ensure we are all coordinated should a potential impact threat be identified in the future,” said Defense Officer Lindley Johnson from NASA, cited by the space agency.
Currently, there is no known asteroid that poses a threat to Earth similar to that studied in the drill. However, an estimated two-thirds of asteroids that are large enough to wreak considerable havoc remain undiscovered.
Hence the importance of performing exercises to prepare for a possible collision.
Image Credit: Getty