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Home News NASA warns a giant asteroid heading for Earth could not be stopped – even with six months notice

NASA warns a giant asteroid heading for Earth could not be stopped – even with six months notice

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NASA warns a giant asteroid heading for Earth could not be stopped – even with six months notice

Mission IMPOSSIBLE: NASA warns a giant asteroid heading for Earth would not be stopped by crashing a space ship into it or detonating a nuclear bomb on it

  • The exercise last week to better understand current in-space preventions 
  • Simulations created an asteroid spotted on April 19, with impact Oct. 20 
  • Scientists studied the space rock’s size, trajectory and chance of impact
  • By Oct. 14, there was a 99% chance of it hitting a part of Europe
  • There would not be enough time to send a craft to take the asteroid down 
  • The team was also unable to determined its size in six months
  • This means we could not blow it up, as a nuke may not put a dent in it 

An asteroid with the force of a massive nuclear bomb would destroy a huge chunk of Europe, and a new simulation shows we could do nothing stop it.

NASA conducted a tabletop exercise last week to better understand our in-space prevention and used a simulation scenario of an asteroid 35 million miles away from Earth that would hit in six months.

The fictitious asteroid, called 2021PDC in NASA’s scenario, was first ‘spotted’ on April 19 and throughout the exercise, scientists planned how to stop it from smashing into our planet on October 20. 

Following days of studying the space rock’s size, trajectory and chance of impact, US and European scientists determined that none of our existing technology could stop the hypothetical asteroid from colliding with Earth – this includes crashing a spacecraft into the space rock or blowing it up with a bomb 

It also took the team of scientists approximately 184 days to determine the impact region and probability of the asteroid making impact with our planet.

‘If confronted with the 2021PDC hypothetical scenario in real life, we would not be able us to launch any spacecraft on such short notice with current capabilities,’ the participants of the exercise said.

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NASA conducted a tabletop exercise last week to better understand our planet’s in-space prevention and used a simulation scenario of an asteroid 35 million miles away from Earth that would hit in six months

The exercise lasted approximately four days, with each day looking at how the event would unfold over the course of six months as if it were a real world emergency.

April 26, or Day 1, began the five percent probability that it would impact Earth, setting the stage for strategic planning to either destroy the space rock or knock it off the path toward Earth.

Day two of the exercise fast forwards to May 2, 2021, where astronomers have spent the previous week working to refine 2021PDC’s orbit and impact probability.

The team used image data collected d by the Pan-STARRS asteroid survey back in 2014, which showed 2021PDC could seven years prior to discovery, during its previous close approach to Earth.

Using the world's largest telescopes, astronomers around the globe have continued to track 2021PDC every night to continually refine the asteroid's orbit and significantly narrow its expected impact region to fall within Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia

Using the world’s largest telescopes, astronomers around the globe have continued to track 2021PDC every night to continually refine the asteroid’s orbit and significantly narrow its expected impact region to fall within Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia

Pictured is  map showing potential impact sites of 2021 PDC, which scientists created to spur interdisciplinary conversations about planetary defense. It took the 184 days to determine the impact region and probability of the asteroid making impact with our planet

Pictured is  map showing potential impact sites of 2021 PDC, which scientists created to spur interdisciplinary conversations about planetary defense. It took the 184 days to determine the impact region and probability of the asteroid making impact with our planet

This data allowed astronomers to reduce orbit uncertainties and conclude the simulated asteroid now has a 100 percent certainty of hitting Earth in Europe or northern Africa.

Scientists proposed nuking the asteroid, which many would see as the obvious attack.

Simulations show that if the nuclear device made contact, the space rock could be decrease to a less destructive size.

However, the simulation also proposed that 2021PDC could be anywhere from 114 feet to half a mile in size and it is not clear if a giant bomb could take the asteroid down.

On Day 3, the exercises takes the researchers to June 30 when the world is preparing for impact.

The final day of of the hypothetical asteroid impact exercise, Day 4, fast forwards to October 14 - just six days before impact. 2021PDC is now an estimated 3.9 million miles from Earth, which is close enough for Goldstone Solar System Radar to detect and analyze 2021PDC and significantly refine the asteroid's size and physical characteristics

The final day of of the hypothetical asteroid impact exercise, Day 4, fast forwards to October 14 – just six days before impact. 2021PDC is now an estimated 3.9 million miles from Earth, which is close enough for Goldstone Solar System Radar to detect and analyze 2021PDC and significantly refine the asteroid’s size and physical characteristics

Using the world’s largest telescopes, astronomers around the globe have continued to track 2021PDC every night to continually refine the asteroid’s orbit and significantly narrow its expected impact region to fall within Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia.

The final day of of the hypothetical asteroid impact exercise, Day 4, fast forwards to October 14 – just six days before impact.

2021PDC is now an estimated 3.9 million miles from Earth, which is close enough for Goldstone Solar System Radar to detect and analyze 2021PDC and significantly refine the asteroid’s size and physical characteristics. 

This determined the asteroid is much smaller than previously thought, thus reducing the expected region of damage from the impact. 

At this point, astronomers have been able to narrow the impact region to be centered near the border of Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria, and have determined the asteroid has a 99 percent probability of impacting within this region.  

Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, said: ‘Each time we participate in an exercise of this nature, we learn more about who the key players are in a disaster event, and who needs to know what information.’

The joint NASA-FEMA exercises included representatives of several other federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State. Pictured are scientists conducted simulations as if it were a real world emergency

The joint NASA-FEMA exercises included representatives of several other federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State. Pictured are scientists conducted simulations as if it were a real world emergency 

‘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.’

So far, NASA has participated in seven impact scenarios—four at previous Planetary Defense Conferences (2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019) and three in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

The joint NASA-FEMA exercises included representatives of several other federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State.

Dr. Paul Chodas, director of CNEOS, said: ‘Hypothetical asteroid impact exercises provide opportunities for us to think about how we would respond in the event that a sizeable asteroid is found to have a significant chance of impacting our planet.’

‘Details of the scenario—such as the probability of the asteroid impact, where and when the impact might occur—are released to participants in a series of steps over the days of the conference to simulate how a real situation might evolve.’

1 COMMENT

  1. Sound very scary . I hope is not real or not so real. I hate to loock like a politician but is any colective action start to be placed ? If you say imposible is an exscuse ? I think the results can be considered a dooms day.

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