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Planetary Defense: Preserving Earth From Asteroid Impacts

Updated: Aug 3

A collision between two astronomical objects that has observable consequences is what's known as an impact event. Even though most impact events involve asteroids, comets, or meteoroids and have a limited influence, researchers have found that they occur periodically in planetary systems.

These occurrences have been proven to have physical repercussions. An asteroid impact crater, also known as a meteorite crater, is a depression that forms when a natural object from interplanetary space collides with the earth or with other relatively large solid bodies like the Moon, other globes and their satellites, or more extensive asteroids and comets.

A meteorite crater is also known as a meteorite impact crater. Large asteroids that pass close to the earth and have a diameter of more than one kilometer have the potential to have a worldwide impact on the earth's geology and climate, which would harm human civilization and may even cause the extinction of the species.

The asteroid that passed over Russia in 2013 and was around the size of a small building was the most significant to hit earth in the past century. Only 20 kilometers of the asteroid were destroyed above the planet, which resulted in a substantial quantity of meteorites being dispersed across the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia.

Although it is common to assert that the only things in life that are unavoidable are death and taxes, the extinction of the human race is also a distinct possibility. The word Earth is inscribed in giant letters on an ominous-looking comet or asteroid hiding somewhere in our solar system.

The problem is that we must find out where it is and when it will strike. In the past 113 years, the Earth has been impacted by two massive asteroids, which, had they occurred over a major metropolis, may have posed a significant risk to the lives of millions of people.

DART Arrives at Vandenberg.

DART Arrives at Vandenberg. (Image credit: NASA)

However, luck was on the side of humankind. It is time to plan for and implement a planetary defense program because this danger is genuine. It makes possible a rational and efficient strategy in terms of cost to the end environmental protection program.

Preserving Earth From Asteroid Impacts

What will happen if a massive object is hurtling toward us at a high rate of speed? Will you be aware of it in advance, and more importantly, will you be able to protect yourself? Let's find out how you can save Earth from being destroyed by asteroids.

Tracking Asteroids

Using telescopes on earth that capture several photographs throughout many nights, scientists can already monitor around 90 % of the larger asteroids that are at least one kilometer in diameter or larger.

The next step is for them to plot out their orbit. As soon as you begin tracking asteroids, you will always be able to know where they are, even decades or even centuries later. None of these should be considered a risk at this time.

On the other hand, the specialists in planetary defense are far more worried about things that are a few hundred meters or more in size. Even though less than half of these asteroids are being tracked, there is still a significant risk that they may severely harm the earth.

Because of their diminutive size, they are more challenging to locate. Even if the things you are aware of do not pose a threat now, there is a vast universe full of undiscovered comets and asteroids that may strike the planet with little to no notice.

If anything of that size were to strike the earth, it might not be an event on the scale of an extinction-level catastrophe, but it would certainly be a catastrophe on a regional scale. The next significant step that NASA will take toward protecting the earth is deploying a telescope to locate potentially hazardous asteroids.

NASA’s NEOWISE Space Telescope.

NASA’s NEOWISE Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA)

This type of telescope would be an IR telescope, which stands for an infrared telescope. It would be able to detect infrared radiation and locate the smaller, darker objects that are concealed deep inside the night sky.

The vast majority of telescopes launched into space are intended to see things that are extremely far away. Yet, these objects are located relatively close to earth in our solar system, so they travel at a very high speed. This telescope is capable of gazing at things that are reasonably close by.

Intercepting Asteroids

When you have a good idea of where asteroids are located, you will have plenty of time to react in case one travels in your direction. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the most recent effort in NASA's planetary defense initiative, comes into play here.

DART is an uncrewed spacecraft that can push or deflect asteroids, thereby slightly altering their course and preventing them from colliding with earth. DART uses kinetic impact technology, which essentially involves intentionally crashing a spaceship into an object to modify its orbit in a minor way.

DART was launched in November of 2017 and is expected to arrive in the Didymos asteroid system around September. It will put its deflecting technique to the test on an asteroid 160 meters across.

However, for DART to be successful, you will first need sufficient warning time to launch your rocket into orbit and then begin to steer it. What occurs if the window of opportunity is missed, and the ship is destined to collide with the planet?

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Recent studies had envisioned a method known as Pulverize It (PI), which would include penetrator rods to shatter the asteroid into shards so tiny that they would be destroyed by the atmosphere before they reached earth.

If it were an asteroid of a size that could destroy a planet, nuclear-powered interceptors would be required to shatter the object and disperse its fragments. They were sufficiently distant from the earth all the time to ensure they would not collide.


In the end, you need to be aware of the locations of the things, and you also need to determine whether or not it is possible to disrupt or move the objects in any way by intercepting them. You may have the technology that could halt the majority of threats, but at this point, you are still engaged in the phase of extensive study and simulation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much longer will asteroids not threaten Earth?

In recent years, calculations have demonstrated that the asteroid will glide by Earth without posing a threat in 2029 and 2036.

It was later determined, based on more studies of the near-Earth object (NEO), that there was no danger of a collision occurring in 2029 and that there was also no danger of an impact arising as a result of another close approach occurring in 2036.

Asteroid life sustainment for humans?

On Earth, humans are shielded from danger by the planet's magnetic field and the atmosphere, but asteroids do not have these natural defenses. Living inside of an asteroid is one strategy that might be utilized to protect oneself from radiation.

It is predicted that humanity would be sufficiently protected from radiation by tunneling one hundred meters deep into an asteroid.

Will we be able to withstand the asteroid's impact?

The incident, according to researchers, provides us with indications as to whether or not current humans might survive a calamity comparable to the one that killed the dinosaurs. The answer to that question is yes, although doing so would be challenging.

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