Should We Really Be Afraid of All the Asteroid News Hitting Us Lately?
And what is NASA's plan for Earth defense?
If you haven't heard the news regarding the asteroids coming "close" to Earth this past week, then you must have been hanging out in a cave in the great outdoors somewhere.
Earlier this week, an asteroid named "2019 OK" came within 73,000 miles of Earth, travelling at an incredible speed of 23 miles per second. Initially, the media attention surrounding this space rock was focused on blaming NASA for not seeing it prior to its passing, an unfair finger pointing.
People need to first understand that spotting asteroids isn't easy in the first place. In order to do so, you have to be looking at the correct area of space, and to put it in laymen's terms, there's a lot of fucking space to look at. That, of course, doesn't inherently mean you're going to spot an asteroid, even if it's there, the space rock must also be on an angle that is reflecting light, and in order to see these rocks at further distances they must be quite large in size.
On an astronomical scale, 2019 OK was not very big at all, given that it had the potential to completely wipe out a major city on our planet. It is, in fact, only about eight meters in diameter, something that doesn't reflect a lot of light until it's quite close; and at 23 miles per second, it's safe to assume this sneaky little bastard perfected its art of sneaking.
Further to that, we will also be passed by Asteroid "2019 OU1" in exactly two weeks, on August 28, 2019. 2019 OU1 will be at a distance of 639,000 miles away and traveling at a speed of eight miles per second. 2019 OU1 is also quite a large beast, measuring about 160 meters, which is about 10 meters shorter than the Washington Monument.
Now, if you're like me, you question why we should be concerned with rocks that are 639,000 miles away from our planet, and if you have any reasonable thought process, you quickly understand that there is absolutely no reason to be afraid of that rock impacting Earth.
At the time of this writing, NASA is aware of 18,000 asteroids that could create an Extinction Level Event (E.L.E), and yeah, I stole that term from the movie Deep Impact. NASA also admits that from their observations and their calculations that those 18,000 represent roughly 90% of the asteroids that could create an E.L.E for our planet.
So what is NASA going to do to protect us from this threat? Well, I was personally humored that they've created a role in their organization: "Planetary Defense Officer" (Somehow I keep having images of Total Recall flashing through my head), which has been filled by a woman named Lindley Johnson. Her role is to monitor these threats and come up with solutions for avoiding them if we end up on a collision course with one.
Their solution? Pay Elon Musk's SpaceX Company $69 million to develop their "Double Asteroid Redirection Test" (DART). A mission aimed at redirecting asteroids paths long before they're to come in close enough contact with Earth. Personally, for me, I keep seeing Bruce Willis walking towards the space shuttle with his crew in Armageddon now.
So, should we really be afraid of these objects? From a sensible standpoint, I would say no; I mean, after all, if there's going to be an E.L.E., then in my opinion, there is nothing that we can do about it. The media has done a great job of fear mongering about this issue lately, but they all fail to report that between August 14, 2018 and August 14, 2019 there have been 978 Near Earth Objects.
A Near Earth Object is anything that passes within 0.05 Astronomical Units of our planet, also deemed as the "threat range." Now, keep in mind that an AU is 92,955,807.3 miles (the mean distance between Earth and our Sun), so 0.05 AU is equal to 4,647,790.4 miles; which is a massive distance when you consider that our moon is only 238,900 miles away from us.
So no folks, I don't think there's any real cause for concern here. I think that there's many issues right here on the planet that deserve more attention and I think that we need to demand better from our media so that the fear mongering can replaced with what it is they want us all distracted from.
As far as E.L.E. are concerned however, I think we ought to just take it in stride; and if it happens, consider the actual probability of it happening and accept the fact that when it happens, it was absolutely meant to be.