NASA’s boss warned yesterday that a catastrophic asteroid strike on Earth could happen in our lifetime.
Jim Bridenstine called for a global study to be urgently launched into the the threat posed to humanity by a large asteroid collision.
Getty – Contributor A catastrophic asteroid impact could occur within our lifetime, NASA’s boss said yesterday
EPA NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave the chilling warning during a keynote speech at a major space conference on Monday
And the NASA administrator called for world powers to begin preparations for the impact of meteor events right away.
He made the plea as he gave a chilling keynote speech at a major space conference on Monday.
Speaking at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference in Washington, DC, Mr Bridenstine said: “We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it’s not about the movies.
“This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life and that is the planet Earth”, TNW reports.
His warning comes as NASA prepares for a possibly imminent “doomsday” by rehearsing what would happen if an asteroid was hurtling to Earth.
The space agency is taking part in five days of mock scenarios along with other international organisations to test their preparedness for an apocalyptic asteroid crash.
Demonstrating how close we could be to such a scenario really occurring, Mr Bridenstine pointed to what’s been dubbed the Chelyabinsk Event.
In February 2013, a meteor blazed across the Ural Mountains before smashing into the remote area of southern Russia.
It was the single largest recorded meteor strike in more than a century – after the Tunguska Event of 1908.
More than 1,600 people were injured by the shock wave from the massive explosion – which rippled out for hundreds of miles around.
The power of the impact was estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
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Getty – Contributor A large asteroid strike on a populated area would be catastrophic, NASA’s boss has warned
Such devastating events are normally thought to occur roughly once every 60 years.
But Mr Bridenstine said there have been three in the last 100 years – suggesting their regularity is increasing at a potentially devastating rate.
It means that another event on the scale of the Chelyabinsk Event could occur within our lifetime.
And its impact could be calamitous if it was to occur in a more built-up area like a town or city.
Likewise, should a similar asteroid strike occur in the ocean, the resulting wave could be colossal – wiping out whole islands, and coastal regions.
I wish I could tell you these events are exceptionally unique. But they are notJim BridensteinNASA administrator
Mr Bridenstine added: “I wish I could tell you these events are exceptionally unique.
“But they are not.”
NASA is treating planetary defence as just a critical objective as space exploration and sending humans to the moon once again.
The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been tasked with studying near-earth objects (NEOs) to record their behaviour and better predict when an asteroid strike could occur.
NEOs are seen as any objects that orbit the sun and come within 30million miles of Earth’s orbit.
Part of this work is detecting and tracking as many as 90 per cent nearby asteroids that are 459ft or larger.
Asteroids of this size could cause potentially fatal damage upon impact with Earth.
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NASA is also teaming with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission.
DART will be the first ever attempt to deflect an asteroid by purposely crashing an object into it at high speed.
The mission is scheduled to launch in June 2021 and will target the near-Earth asteroid Didymos – which measures roughly 2,600ft.
DART is expected to smash into Didymos when it’s 6.8 million miles from Earth in October 2022.
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