act now to stop asteroids destroying humanity (Wired UK)

An asteroid large enough to destroy a city hits Earth once every hundred years


Queen guitarist Brian May has warned that our
obliteration is inevitable unless we take the threat of asteroid impacts seriously. May, who has PHD
in astrophysics, called for a global effort to ensure a 100-fold
increase in the detection and monitoring of asteroids.

His concerns have been echoed by royal astronomer
Martin Rees and a group of more than 100 prominent physicists, artists and business leaders
including Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox and Peter Gabriel.

The group have co-signed a declaration demanding increased use
of technology to detect and track near-Earth asteroids and better
discovery and tracking of new asteroid threats. An asteroid big
enough to destroy an entire city is likely to hit Earth once every 100 years, it has been

Referencing the asteroid explosion in Tunguska, Russia
in 1908, May said it would only take one big impact to wipe us all
out: “We are currently aware of less than one percent of objects
comparable to the one that impacted at Tunguska, and nobody knows
when the next big one will hit.”

The Tunguska event, where an asteroid exploded 4-6
miles above the Earth’s surface, was still powerful enough to
destroy an area roughly 800 square miles in size with shockwaves
felt as far away as the UK.

Royal astronomer Martin Rees added that the human race
must make it “our mission to find asteroids before they find us”.
The first World Asteroid Day will take place on 30 June 2015, the
anniversary of the Tunguska explosion. Founding partners include
The Planetary Society and California Academy of Sciences. Events
will take place around the world to help raise awareness of the
threat posed by asteroids.

Astronaut Edward Lu told that using
existing technology it would be possible to detect asteroids “many
decades” in advance and then “run into them with a small
spacecraft” to deflect them off course. He added that it was
important to find these objects while they were still billions of
miles from Earth.

Sentinel, a privately-funded space telescope that will go into orbit around
the Sun in 2019, uses infrared cameras to hunt out asteroids as
small as 40 metres across. Such small objects are likely to hit the
Earth once every 100 years and are powerful enough to destroy a
whole city.

Lu explained that if an asteroid 150 metres across hit
the Earth it would have five times the explosive force of all the
bombs used in World War 2 — including the atomic bombs dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Referencing the 1998 Hollywood
blockbuster Armageddon, Lu said: “If you find something weeks
beforehand, there’s not much you can do.”

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3 December 2014 | 6:00 pm – Source:


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