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A new 'Planet-Killer' found...


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Basking in the glow of the successful D.A.R.T. mission to modify the trajectory of an asteroid in the first real test of planetary defense, today we are reminded that we still don't know as much as we need to and we still don't know as much as we think. It is a very good reminder of our species' vulnerabilities and once again makes me ask why we spend so much time fighting each other rather than focusing on much larger, external threats. Alas, such is Humanity.

A 'Planet-Killer' asteroid, about 1.5 kilometers wide, has been discovered inside Earth's orbit. Yes, we are pretty good at detecting things when looking away from our sun, but much less so when towards our sun; in fact, the study made its observations roughly 10 minutes at a time, twice a day during twilight. 

What is a 'Planet-Killer'? Have a look at the space.com article laying out 5 case studies of asteroids destructive potential based on their size(s) (https://www.space.com/asteroid-apocalypse-how-big-can-humanity-survive).

Is this the end of us? No, at least not right away. And, the good news is that scientists believe that we know about 'most' of the really dangerous asteroids in near-Earth orbit, but on the other hand, 'most' isn't completely reassuring. Moreover, while we seem to know a great deal about the 'Planet-Killers', there are huge numbers of rocks up there which we don't know about that could do a hell of a lot of damage, especially if they were to hit populated areas or shallow areas of the seas/oceans.

Those with too much time on their hands AND a good sense of science can look at an Imperial College London/Purdue site where one can enter location and size of a (fictional) asteroid strike and see what happens. ((https://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEarth/cgi-bin/impact.cgi?latitude=&longitude=&LocationSelect=1&CraterSelect=0&diam=160&diameterUnits=1&pdiameter_select=0&pdens=&pdens_select=1500&vel=20&velocityUnits=1&velocity_select=0&theta=45&angle_select=0&wdepth=&wdepthUnits=1).)

What does this all mean? Several thoughts come to mind.

First, it is a great reminder that we don't know as much as we think; hubris is a real thing.

Second, money invested in science and space is rarely wasted. I often hear (good, sincere) people say that the money we spend on research and space is better spent elsewhere, but I disagree. The money spent on Space has given huge returns, and will likely continue to give many more. Further, giving money for research to smart, inquisitive people seems to have paid for itself many times over; investing in possibilities seems to be a good thing.

Third, it just seems so stupid to waste out time and resources on petty spats between nations when 'Planet-Killers' lurk. Nuff' said.

Finally, I think that Humanity is coming to cross-roads soon(ish). Never before have we had the sheer number of highly-educated people present, and never before have they had access to the bulk of humanity's knowledge in their palms (smart phones). On the other hand, we have seen times in history where humanity just gets dumber for no real identifiable reason.

Future historians are going to look back at this general era and make the determination about which path we took.

Some reading...





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Members interested in this topic should also have a look at the 'Big Think' site's...

"Mostly Mute Monday {which} tells an astronomical story in images, visuals and no more than 200 words."

The photos, charts, graphs etc. all paint a picture and deliver information in a slightly unusual, but quite interesting, manner.




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11 hours ago, Shade_Wilder said:

Those with too much time on their hands AND a good sense of science can look at an Imperial College London/Purdue site where one can enter location and size of a (fictional) asteroid strike and see what happens. ((https://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEarth/cgi-bin/impact.cgi?latitude=&longitude=&LocationSelect=1&CraterSelect=0&diam=160&diameterUnits=1&pdiameter_select=0&pdens=&pdens_select=1500&vel=20&velocityUnits=1&velocity_select=0&theta=45&angle_select=0&wdepth=&wdepthUnits=1).)


I had a crack at this. A1.5km asteroid hitting Osaka would leave quite a mark. 😳

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Been trying to access if a land hit is worse or a water hit.

Land creates dust clouds blocking sunlight for ages, possibly for years, not good, water strike inundates massive coastal tracts, both do incredible amount of damage and loss of life and the way of life as we know it is totally gone. 

(crap- no facebook, no twitter, no messenger, etc, etc millions will die frustrated clinging to their phones in one last hope of a message.)

Finally, over a few sleepless nights, accessed a water strike is best of a bad situation for the survival of mankind without digital accessories, but a chance of continuance.

The land strike has too many variables, atmosphere, breathable, rainfall and winds violent or non existant, rise in temperatures etc etc.

Thankfully I'm in my 70's.

To put it bluntly, too old to care.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Destroying an asteroid would cause enormous shards of Tunguska-like material, to shower planet Earth. Not to mention chunks of space debris, that can damage manned and unmanned spacecraft. No its not a good idea to nuke large, orbital bodies... 

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