The 'Flying Terrorist' heading our way - Flashback July 2008
Astronomers are battling to work out the trajectory of an asteroid that will cause havoc if it hits the Earth in 2036. Called Apophis, the giant meteor is hurtling through space at 10km per second. Scientists are warning that an impact would be far more devastating than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WW2.
At the Zvenigorod Observatory near Moscow, space researchers keep watch on cosmic bodies and study known meteorites to understand their size and inner structure. They are tracking the path of the asteroid Apophis as well. They aim to determine how real the danger is but that will only be clear in a decade's time.
Astronomer Sergey Barabanov explains the predicted course of events: “The critical moment will be in 2029, when Apophis passes so close to Earth that it will be visible to the naked eye. The consequence of this fly-by will tell us whether it will come back again and collide with us in 2036,” he said.
If Apophis passes through a particular point in space called a keyhole the Earth's gravity may change its course for the worst.
In ancient Egypt, Apophis was the spirit of evil and destruction, a snakelike demon determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness. A fitting name, then, for a menace that could potentially cause devastating global damage.
Nasa estimates the blast caused by Apophis would be a 100,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WW2.
It would also be more destructive than Siberia's Tunguska event of 100 years ago. That is thought to have been caused by a small space rock explosion and this impact is the largest in Earth's recent history. It wreaked havoc on a vast area, wiping out 80 million trees.
Ideas on how to deflect an asteroid range from blowing it up to sending a spacecraft to nudge it off its path.
Anatoly Zaitsev from the Moscow-based Planetary Defence Centre says we need to develop “a planetary protection system.”
“There's no point in discovering these objects if we don't protect ourselves from them. But we also need better observation techniques. As it's difficult to track objects from the ground, I think a space observation platform would be the best option,” Zaitsev said.
Meanwhile, Russia has offered to launch a space probe to plant a radio transmitter on Apophis so its orbit can be more accurately tracked.
Asteroid heading our way - Update
Scientists gather to avert danger of approaching asteroid
Russia's Space Agency is preparing to face the threat of a distant asteroid called Apophis. At more than 300 meters across, it may be capable of causing wide spread destruction on Earth.
The head of the Russian Space agency said that peoples’ lives are at stake and announced that Russia is preparing a mission to deal with Apophis and will invite Americans and Chinese into a ‘dream team’ to take part in the mission, too.
Author and space expert Jeff Manber told RT that Apophis is certainly one of the asteroids astronomer around the world are closely watching, and even though it has been labeled as posing a minor threat, anything could happen to change its trajectory and direct it to Earth.
He shared his opinion that exploding an asteroid of the Apophis size, about 270 meters in diameter, in Hollywood-style is not necessary; it is enough to use a satellite to push it a little bit and change its trajectory.
“We need some sort of international action. People have wondered ‘what do we do with asteroids?’ Jeff Manber said.
“Right now, NASA is not working with China so this would be very interesting to see if, first of all, Russia takes the lead on this, does move forward with the asteroid rescue mission and finally, for the Americans and the Chinese agree to go along. It’s going to be very interesting to watch,” he added.
A Must Watch - I think
See if SCIENCE can stop this: