I don’t know about you, but I find it maddening that after we have experienced two wake-up calls to the danger of our planet being hit by an asteroid from space, Governments are more concerned about horse-meat in burgers, shale gas and oil extraction, should the Pope have quit, and gay marriage. Even as we may just be getting our heads around saving the planet from our own folly in the form of carbon pollution, a threat comes loud and clear from the heavens.
In a Nostradamus-like coincidence it was on the same day that a meteor exploded over Russia injuring almost a thousand people, and an asteroid passed so close to the planet that it was not only closer than the moon, but closer than the geostationary satellites that facilitate our communication and navigation systems.
One company that is taking this as seriously as it should be is DSI (Deep Space Indistries). According to them, there are over 10,000 near Earth asteroids big enough to destroy a city and 900 more are discovered every year.
Of course, spotting them is just the first step, unless we all want to get our deck-chairs out, put our shades on, and watch the end of the planet with a Long Island Iced Tea in your hand!
Sci Fi recognised the problem a while ago, and there are a number of films dealing with counteracting the threat; Armageddon, Dark Star (ok, that was rogue planets) Meteor (with Sean Connery)and Deep Impact.
DSI’s proposal is for a series of its FireFly satellites to detect and track rogue asteroids. The FireFly was originally designed to target candidate asteroids for mining operations based on value, return times and learn their composition, structure and spin rate. What is not so clear is how earth-bound asteroids would be destroyed or diverted.
While we are happy to criticise North Korea for its nuclear explosions beneath ground, are we happy to loose off nuclear warheads in space like trigger-happy cowboys shooting down spinning dollars?
This issue definitley needs to be on international conference agendas as a matter of priority.